Indian farmers win big, Narendra Modi withdraws the contentious farm laws fearing election reverses

The national interest argument has been dumped after fearing impending election losses over the three muscled farm laws which the Narendra Modi government enacted during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We have decided to repeal all three farm laws. We will start the constitutional process to repeal all the three laws in the parliament session that starts at the end of this month,” Narendra Modi said in a dramatic U-turn during an address today morning.

In September 2020, President Ram Nath Kovind rubber-stamped the three bills passed by the Modi Government. The three bills are Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.

The move led to widespread protests by farmers who feared that the laws paved the way for dismantling the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big companies.

The farmers’ protests were unrelenting and had caused widespread anger around the nation. The anti-farmer mechanisation by the state and non state entities including manslaughter charges on the son of a Union Minister, on behalf of the government and insinuations that the farmers were terrorists, only fanned the anger and protests. Criticisms have poured in from the world over, and the farmers’ agitation was billed as the world’s largest event of the nature.

The opposition parties have called it a victory for the farmers against an arrogant government. Rahul Gandhi of the Congress, the principal opposition party, said, “The country’s Annadata (food providers) bowed his (Narendra Modi’s) head of arrogance with Satyagraha (truth protests). Congratulations on this victory against injustice!” On January 14th, Rahul Gandhi had predicted that the Modi government would be forced to withdraw the anti farm laws.

Narendra Modi’s latest U-turn has earned him the ire of his supporters, colloquially called Andh Bhakts (blind followers), which mainly constitutes educated youngsters, rightwing Hindutva followers and a majority of retired government officials, including military personnel. While most have taken a middle path, some have called Narendra Modi the weakest Prime Minister ever.

The farmers’ protests had led to significant defeats of Narendra Modi led BJP in by-polls and local polls. BJP was staring at considerable erosion of voters from its Hindutva vote bank, who were also farmers. Calling off the muscled farm bills gives Narendra Modi a big respite. Still, he suffers from other significant issues like steep price rise, gross mismanagement of the economy, lack of any significant results with his expensive prolific foreign tours, Chinese occupying additional Indian territory under his nose etc. Narendra Modi’s trip to a prominent temple earned him ire in contrast to additional votes and backing from the majority community.

Unbelieving farmers

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who spearheaded the farmers’ protests, said, “The agitation will not be taken back. We will wait for the day when the farm laws will be scrapped in the Parliament. Government should talk on other issues of farmers too, besides MSP.” 

Farmers have protested for 357 days against the muscled farm laws by the Narendra Modi Government, and 669 farmers have been martyred.

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