Even if it strains credulity, the ruling BJP seems intent on pushing the “foreign hand” conspiracy theory in the farmers’ protest. Party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia unveiled the theory at the same time that Delhi Police registered an FIR invoking sections 124-A (sedition), 153-A, 1523 (promoting enmity) and 120-B (conspiracy) of the IPC. The police were still circumspect, not naming international celebrities as accused. But the BJP had no such reservations. “In the garb of the farmers’ movement, an international conspiracy is being hatched against India. Our democracy is above Rihanna, Greta and Mia Khalifa…The so-called environment activist Greta Thunberg issued an anti-India conspiracy document from her twitter account,” said Bhatia.
The ruling party is undeterred by the mirth and ridicule the spectre of Greta Thunberg and Rihanna hatching such a conspiracy has invoked. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has further underlined that investigations into the “conspiracy” have “revealed a lot”.
The reason for the BJP persisting with this absurdity is that the conspiracy template and the “foreign hand” have so far been successful in painting all Opposition and dissent as anti-national. Rahul Gandhi’s Italian descent comes in handy, especially when contrasted with the hyper-nationalistic credentials that the BJP has claimed for itself. Friendly anchors, godi media and, of course, the army of trolls on twitter, keep it afloat and the BJP invariably comes off smelling of saffron.
Secondly, the continuing stalemate indicates a strategy to tire out the protesters. If, in the interim, they can be successfully branded as terrorists along with measures to barricade them, shutting off the internet, cutting power and water supply, Delhi’s border can finally be cleared. The only problem is that there are still thousands of them, including women and children. And if they can brave the coldest of Delhi months, a few barricades are hardly likely to deter them. And with Greta and Rihanna, the plausibility quotient in the conspiracy theory has surely been miscalculated. They would not be as easy to demonise as an obscure activist in the boondocks of Chhattisgarh.