With state elections looming, Modi repeals controversial farm laws to appease protesting farmers

With elections in several states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - which have powerful farm unions - in the next few months

Nov 19, 2021
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Farmers’ protest in India (Photo: The Print)

With elections in several states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - which have powerful farm unions - in the next few months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the decision to repeal the controversial three farm laws and expressed regret that the government could not make a section of farmers understand the importance of the new laws that promised to liberalise the market for farmers. On the day the nation observed the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Modi announced that the laws would be repealed in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament and urged the farmers who are camping at the borders of Delhi to go back home.

"We have decided to repeal three farm laws. We will finish the process to repeal the law in the upcoming Parliament session," PM Modi said.

"I appeal to all farmers, go back to your families, let's make a new start," he said.

Modi said government could not make a section of farmers understand.

"I want to say, there might have been some shortcoming on our behalf, we could not make some farmers understand. However, on the occasion of Parkash Parv and we are not blaming anyone," he said.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping on the border of Delhi since November 2020, protesting against the three farm laws which they said were against the interests of the farming community in the country. 
Farmers say the laws will allow the entry of private players in farming and that will hurt their income as they are suspicious of big business in the country.  Several rounds of talks with the government over the past few months failed as ministers insisted that laws were good for farmers and the farmers stuck to their stand that they want nothing short of rollback of the laws.

Otherwise, they threatened that the protests would spread to the entire farming community in an agriculture-dependent country. 

The move is seen as a major climbdown by a prime minister, who is not known to back down from his ideological and political stands. On one hand, it showed the clout of the farming community, who were backed by the combined opposition, and even sections of the ruling BJP;  it also showed that Modi was becoming jittery about his party's prospects in key state elections in Uttar Pradesh early next year, as the country's most populous state with 220 million people is usually the bellwether for the national political mood. 

(SAM)