Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Saturday announced Rs. 3 lakh ex gratia to each of the bereaved families of farmers who succumbed to numerous reasons during their protracted agitation in the national capital that began in August 2020, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws.

As the efforts of the Union government reached naught, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the entire nation by surprise at 9 a.m on Friday making the bonanza brighter for the agitating farmers a week before "Black Friday" and announced that the government had decided to do away with the three laws.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has always maintained that the three laws are "black laws". The apology by the Prime Minister came as a chilling surprise to his detractors and equally benumbed his admirers.

His backroom boys have begun a high decibel campaign by blowing the trumpet that it was a master strategy and his "sorry" has assuaged the hurt feelings of the farmers. And, the reason why Mr. Modi has timed it so well is the intent to mollycoddle the relentlessly agitating farmers.

Though the Opposition dubbed it a political stunt in view of the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa, the Modi brigade perched him on a higher pedestal to showcase him as a "leader with a heart and compassion". Not to mention, Mr. Modi corrected his course to suit the popular needs even though he's not gripped by any sense of remorse. For now, the BJP wants the country to believe that Mr. Modi is not a leader with a "bloated ego" and that he's malleable.

While the BJP is busy magnifying his image, down south in Telangana, KCR delivered a big blow by announcing ex gratia to the bereaved families of farmers who died at the protest owing to different reasons.

Whatever may be the amount he has announced - in this case Rs. 3 lakh to each family and a demand for compensation of Rs. 25 lakh each to the families - he has indeed led the way.

If the Centre agrees to KCR's demand, it amounts to Delhi toeing his line. Even if the Centre revises the ex gratia with some more sops, it's just that it will be conceding the demand of KCR, with add-ons.

KCR has also reiterated the demand of farmers that the cases filed against the agitating farmers be scrapped at once. He urged the Centre to bring about a piece of legislation on the Minimum Support Price for paddy and withdraw the Electricity Amendment Bill.

The Telangana Chief Minister, who has been opposing the farm laws vehemently, ensured that his party protested and opposed the enactments on the floor of both Houses of the Parliament when the Bills were taken up.

Besides demanding that the Centre give an assurance to farmers of Telangana on procurement of paddy, KCR wanted a firm "annual commitment" on the off-take of paddy from the state. In the event of agreeing to this demand, which almost is a certainty, the Centre would have to work out a similar model for all paddy-producing states.

This naturally corners the BJP, for KCR has taken the pole position vis a vis the farmers' agitation and demands, proving his consistency from the beginning.

Though he seemed to have softened his stand some time ago, he has sent across a message as loud as thunder and as clear as crystal by making his ministers and legislators organize rasta rokos twice in a year. He himself participated in a Maha Dharna on 18 November in Hyderabad. The withdrawal of the farm laws by the Prime Minister on the succeeding day may have been an incidental coincidence. Yet, KCR had an opportunity to claim credit for the same though he did not arrogate the same to himself overtly.

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A Saye Sekhar

A Saye Sekhar is a Hyderabad-based journalist, columnist, and analyst. He writes on politics, business and governance. You can follow him on Twitter @sayesekhar.

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