As of last week the excitement of taking out a tractor rally on Republic Day is very intense. More and more people are joining in what is currently known as the Farmers Protest.
Similar protests have been witnessed in France earlier. America witnessed such protests in the 1890s by farmers and those who considered farmers to be the backbone of society. Few know today that the word ‘populist’ came into use during those America protests. Populism meant the advocacy of policies that supported the farmer. In the presidential elections that followed the populists almost won. But soon after the election they simply faded away, much like the Chartists faded away in Britain after leading massive protests for almost a decade.
In Delhi currently, irrespective of whether the government repeals the laws or not, currently there is no possibility of any agitator backing off from that excitement of circumambulating Delhi on a tractor along the Ring Road on 26 January.
Already some 60,000 tractors have been mobilised in Haryana and Punjab. Many have already started moving towards Delhi. 20th onwards the movement will become even more intense.
This huge a crowd isn’t under any leaders’ control any more. It is entirely self-controlled. Only after the 26th, is it likely that the farmers will go home. It is after that the leaders will start fighting amongst themselves on who should take the credit and how much.
Rajiv Lochan is a reputed historian, author and columnist