India’s Democracy Wins With The Government Decision To Repeal Three Farm Laws

Farmers protest against the new farm laws (File Image)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that his government will repeal the three farm laws which were enacted in September last year and had sparked fierce agitation by the farmers.

Making a stunning announcement in his address to the nation on the occasion of Gurupurab, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, PM Modi admitted that the government had failed to convince the farmers about the three farm laws and urged them to call off their agitation and return home.

PM Modi assured that the government will take constitutional measures in the coming Winter Session of Parliament which begins from November 29 to repeal the three controversial laws. His announcement came ahead of the assembly polls in three key northern states – Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. While the BJP had formed governments in U.P. and Himachal Pradesh, the Congress had won Punjab in the last assembly elections of 2017. He also chose the auspicious occasion of Gurupurab to make the announcement as thousands of farmers from Punjab had also joined the protest.

The three contentious laws are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. There was apprehension among the farmers that the laws will ultimately lead to doing away with the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops, and they will be left to fend for themselves as big corporations will take over the agricultural sector.

As the assurance has come from the Prime Minister, it is likely that the process of repealing the laws in Parliament through an amendment, vetted by the Law Ministry, and to be introduced by the concerned minister will be undertaken at the earliest.

Looking at the Prime Minister’s decision to repeal the three farm laws politically, though it means a U-turn by the government after it held several rounds of talks with the farmers’ organisations without any result, it signals a victory for the democratic forces. The farmers from Punjab, Haryana, U.P. and Uttarakhand were firm in their courage of conviction to stay put at Delhi borders and vowed to carry on with the protest even in the face of grave provocations and them being labelled as “anti-nationals.”

Opposition leaders saluted the farmers for their brave struggle which led to the repeal of the three “black farm laws.” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet that the nation must not forget the sacrifice of more than 750 farmers who have lost their lives as “they are our martyrs.”

He said the quest for justice for those targeted by the government and its agencies through false cases will continue. “PM must apologise for the hardship and trouble caused by his dictatorial step of farm laws to benefit his crony business partners,” he tweeted.

Rakesh Tikait who led the farmers’ agitation from the front described it as a win after one long year. “Unity and Justice is on its way to success,” he tweeted.

Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh paid tribute to the tenacity of farmers who did not give up. “First, bulldoze laws in Parliament. Then face unprecedented protests. Thereafter, confront election realities in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, particularly. Finally, after much appeal, repeal Kisan-ity prevails at last!” he said in a tweet.

 With the government decision to repeal the farm laws, it is clear that the opposition will train its guns on the government in the coming Parliament session. Last session was a washout owing to the opposition protest over Pegasus, this time the opposition will leave no stone unturned to turn the heat on the Modi government. Smooth functioning of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will largely depend on the responsible attitude of the opposition. Also, the farmers’ agitation has shown that the mighty can be humbled in a democratic way. Surely, the coming days will also witness a change in the political narrative and rhetoric of the poll campaign in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

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