India cracks down on reignited farmer protests

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Insights from The Indian Express and the Financial Times

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Indian police fired tear gas and set up barricades to block farmers from marching on New Delhi to demand more support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The demonstrations reignite a movement that began more than three years ago: In 2020, farmers held a year-long protest against proposed agricultural reforms, resulting in the government withdrawing the legislation. Now, farmers have returned to the streets, saying Modi’s administration has not kept its promises.


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Government downplays farmer threat ahead of elections

Source:  The Indian Express

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it wasn’t concerned by the revived protests, just months before India’s general elections, with senior party officials noting that while the demonstrations made for “bad optics,” they didn’t believe they would cause issues for the government, The Indian Express reported. The BJP has argued that the protests are illogical, and that the farmers should have waited to protest until voters decided on a new government later this year. “Though the BJP says it is unperturbed, party leaders want to de-escalate the situation and not allow the farmers to block Delhi’s borders again,” the Express reporters noted.

Opposition alliance is crumbling as polls near

Source:  Financial Times

An alliance between India’s opposition parties — known as the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) — is disintegrating. The coalition was thought to be the opposition’s best hope of defeating Modi, a populist Hindu nationalist leader who has governed for 10 years. But infighting and high-profile desertions within the alliance mean it is likely that the BJP will hold on to power after the elections, the Financial Times reported: “The BJP have a formidable election machinery unlike any in the world,” political analyst Neerja Chowdhury told the paper, adding, “most importantly, they have a hunger for power.”