Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today performed a delicate balancing act over the ongoing farmers' agitation against the new agricultural laws: On one hand, he asked the Narendra Modi government to "protect India's international reputation" by solving the issue at the earliest. Yet, the Janata Dal Secular leader also asked the protesters to consider Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's suggestion of trying the new laws for a year.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and other states have been protesting along Delhi's border against new farm laws passed by the Central government in September, which they fear will dismantle the minimum support price system and leave them at the "mercy" of big corporates. Several rounds of talks between their leaders and the government and multiple assurances from the Prime Minister himself have failed to move them.
On Saturday, Mr Kumaraswamy said the protest has begun "attracting the attention of not only the country, but the entire world" and has created an impression that "some trouble is brewing in India".
The ongoing farmers' protest in Delhi outskirts against three farm legislations of the Centre have started attracting the attention of not only the country, but the entire world. Close on the heels of concern expressed by the Canadian Prime Minister, parliamentarians from..— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) December 26, 2020
"It is my sincere wish that the reputation earned by India at the international level and its image should not be dented by the new farm legislations as well as the protests against them. Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi should realise that the reputation and name earned by himself after becoming the prime minister may get blemished through such protests," he said in a series of tweets.
Under these circumstances, he sought a "decisive meeting" to end the farmers' struggle. "This is inevitable in the interest of protecting the country's dignity," he wrote.
The former Chief Minister then reminded the protesting farmers of views that Indian agriculture was caught in a "vicious circle". "It is very much necessary on our part to be ready for any experiment if it can bring about welfare of farm sector by rescuing it from the vicious circle," he wrote.
"(Rajnath Singh) has appealed to farmers to allow an 'experimental' implementation of the new farm legislations. He has also assured farmers of withdrawing the legislations," Mr Kumaraswamy wrote, asking the farmers to "have an open mind".
His tweets come days after he scotched rumours about his party, the JDS, merging with the BJP in Karnataka. The JDS had recently helped the BJP pass a controversial farm bill in the upper house of Karnataka.