How to Get Away With Equating Protesting Farmers to Terrorists: The Kangana Ranaut Playbook

Social Commentary

How to Get Away With Equating Protesting Farmers to Terrorists: The Kangana Ranaut Playbook

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab and Haryana against a set of reforms introduced by the central government have been gathering steam since the current session of Parliament began. There have been raucous scenes in the Rajya Sabha, as Opposition Members of Parliament have raised their voices against the Centre’s reforms, but the ruling coalition has pushed ahead regardless. Supporters of the government have also taken to dismissing the criticism, as Kangana Ranaut called the farmers’ protests another effort by those who organised the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, calling them terrorists.

Kangana’s statement has caused quite a controversy, as she skirts the line of calling the protesting farmers terrorists themselves. When called out for appearing to refer to farmers as terrorists, Ranaut clarified that she was not referring to the farmers directly, but the condemnation of her comments continued online.

Gaurav Pandhi, a Congress worker, pointed out that Ranaut, an ardent supporter of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as Sambit Patra, the BJP spokesperson, have taken turns at dismissing the farmers’ protests instead of genuinely considering the concerns they are voicing.

Another Congress worker, Rohan Gupta, demanded that the BJP clarify their stand on the issue or tender an apology on Ranaut’s behalf.

Some users pointed out that Ranaut is quick to wade into issues and defend the government, acting as its “mouthpiece”.

Student leader N Sai Balaji wrote, “Farmers are fighting for their livelihoods, security and autonomy,” just in case Ranaut needed a reminder that there are other reasons for citizens to protest beyond a conspiracy against the government.

Dissent is supposed to be a vital component of a functioning democracy. But between the government’s high-handedness in the Houses of Parliament, and Ranaut’s equation of dissenters with terrorists, its importance appears to be shrinking in the Indian context.