Was the farmer-suicide in AAP Kisan Rally a staged stunt gone wrong?

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When you heard of the breaking news of a farmer committing suicide in live rally - what was your first assumption about the situation? Frail bodied, in heavy debt, left with no other option - poverty ridden farmer forced to commit suicide by an evil pro-rich government. It paints quite a picture, you don't even need real facts - the story writes itself.

AAP has been building it's politics on the foundation of such emotionally-charged narrative. And what's better than adding the tadka with a live suicide-attempt. If nothing else Kejriwal does know how to make sensational television.

Some facts about the Gajendra "farmer" who was "forced" to commit suicide:

  1. He was not a farmer - he was a cloth merchant from Rajasthan. 
  2. It's a family business - no way is the family poor. Not even close. His father is village sarpanch.
  3. Not only was Gajender was very active on social media. But had a full website for his business.
  4. He had been photographed presenting scarfs to some estremely well-known personalities including Rajnath Singh, Amar Singh, Ashish Nehra, Bill Clinton etc.
  5. He had been politically active for a long time and nurtured some very strong political ambitions.
  6. He joined BJP, but later moved to Samajwadi Party. Nowadays, he was associated with AAP & was desperately looking for a candidature.
  7. The letter found on his body stated that his father had thrown him out, and he seemed depressed - in his own words, didn't know where to go.
  8. Gajendra Singh called his brother and sister on the same day and told them he'd be coming back to join them in a wedding party.
  9. He told his brother that Manish Sisodia had invited him to join in the rally - so he had direct link with the leadership.
  10. He also called his brother from the tree to tell him to watch him on TV.
  11. Daussa district doesn't fall under the bad-weather influenced region.
  12. His family has refused 10 Lakh offered by AAP, and replied with, we'd give you 1 crore.

Also read: Postponing the bitterpill and perpetuating poverty

Now we know a little background about Gajendra - we should understand what his suicide means politically:

  1. It's timed well to roadblock the Land Acquisition Bill - which has already been slandered quite strongly by the socialist forces. It's easy to misinform the illiterate rurals. 
  2. A farmer attempting-suicide right in the capital during a land-bill protest creates a strong image. Lot of fodder for anti-India lobby.
  3. As expected, the story got picked by all international newspapers - insinuating how Indian govt is compromising interest of the poor for the rich.
  4. Creates a strong-differentiator from Congress anti-Land-bill campaign. Kejriwal has been lagging behind Congress, been busy fire-fighting the internal issues.
  5. Off course, the attempt at suicide was dangerous - but is it possible that Gajendra was lured with an election-ticket?
Kejriwal always had a genius streak in attracting attention. How many times was he and his colleagues were attacked during the campaign? And how all those attackers happen to join AAP afterwards. Though Kejriwal's knee-jerk reaction is always to allege a BJP hand, media almost always laps it up.
During Sheila Dixit's era - Kejriwal had held bijli-paani rally, where many of his dharna volunteers were injured. And what did Arvind order - injured be paraded in front cameras before they are given any first-aid. 
AAP has been using this trick to grab eyeballs for a long time now - shock and awe - this is how they operate. And for that, they will use and throw, mis-guided people, ruthlessly.

Few questions should not be overlooked:

1. Kejriwal first response was - Delhi police was irresponsive, and doesn't listen to him.
Is he serious? There's entire security detail for the new chief minister. And he's saying that they treat him like an 'aera-gera'?? He couldn't have personally ordered them to get him down? Very hard to believe.
2. Kejriwal, Sisodiya, Vishwas all kept looking at the man on the tree with the rope around his neck. And they didn't think he was may be serious about the threat? Or, did they know it already?
Why could they not just walk up to the tree and try to convince him to climb down? May be they thought, Gajendra's presence on the tree was adding more weight to their event? Maybe a suicide would add more fuel to the fire.

Else, why does a man who would not shy from sleeping on the road in the month of January? And who would personally connect electricity connections on camera - why would he not walk up to the tree and request the guy to come down? Couldn't Kejriwal ask his volunteers to get him down? Off course he could, his volunteers would have listened to him.
3. Gajendra was an AAP volunteer. And Kejriwal during his speech mentioned that some people from Daussa are here. Was this a slip? 
Did he know already that some pseudo-suicide is going to be attempted to make the headlines? Was this the old trick gone wrong? May be AAP volunteers were supposed to climb quicker and save him in time, and it couldn't happen.
4. Since Gajendra was a volunteer. It should now be investigated that were there some internal elements who manipulated him to try this stunt - which additionally will get him eyeballs and launch his political career in AAP?
All public immolation which have happened in past have had such angles where misguided / vulnerable individuals were used to meet political ends. Was this just a party sponsored stunt gone wrong? Was this why none of the leaders took it seriously in the beginning?

There have been many defending statements on how this issue should not be politicized. What they mean is that "please don't try to smell a rat" in this tragedy. Farmer suicide is an extremely sensitive issue. But that does not mean that the emotion that this issue drives will not be taken advantage of. May be one needs to be a little blunt to find the truth.

Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga

Political Analyst. Social Visionary. Editorial Journalist. Founder of open-magazine Indian Exponent.

Follow him on twitter @IshaanMohan

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Indian Exponent: Was the farmer-suicide in AAP Kisan Rally a staged stunt gone wrong?
Was the farmer-suicide in AAP Kisan Rally a staged stunt gone wrong?
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