The Centre has repealed three controversial farm laws after more than a year of protests by agitated farmers, but the move is more political in nature. BJP has realised, they don’t have any future in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab if they keep irritating farmers. BJP tried everything to discourage them but that did not go well with recent elections. The farmers had opposed the laws saying the legislation left them at the mercy of corporates, while the Centre claimed the intent was to unshackle farm markets and boost agrarian incomes.
That the stand-off continued even after a year itself is proof enough that the Union government wanted to pursue the laws with zeal, regardless of the fierce and unprecedented opposition it faced even in BJP-ruled states. But the tide began to turn after the government realised that the protests were not withering away after even a year. Then realisation daybreak in the saffron circles about a possible backlash in the cow belt states, which constitute the core vote base of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
In a very dramatic dialogue and that typical cry for farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government would repeal the three farm laws passed by Parliament a year ago, which has led to massive protests by farmers unions in several states. The procedure to roll back the laws would take place during the winter session of Parliament, which begins next week, the Prime Minister informed. Farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against these laws at the borders of Delhi since November 26 last year.
While no official reason has been cited, the decision comes just ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament that is scheduled to commence on November 29. In the last session of Parliament, the opposition attacked the government strongly over the laws, and it led to acrimony and impacted the functioning of the Houses. Also, the Prime Minister has made his announcement before the announcement of crucial Assembly elections in five states — Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Goa. The BJP’s performance in the civic polls in Punjab earlier this year, and in Assembly by-elections in Haryana were dismal.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 — began on June 5, 2020, when the President of India promulgated three ordinances¬ that were the precursors to these Acts.
Parliament has the authority to enact, amend, and repeal any law. The government will have to move motions to repeal the three farm laws in the coming session of Parliament. These motions will be moved by the same ministries that piloted the Bills to enact these laws. While no official reason has been cited, the decision comes just ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament that is scheduled to commence on November 29. In the last session of Parliament, the opposition attacked the government strongly over the laws, and it led to acrimony and impacted the functioning of the Houses.
After being forced to take back these laws that it loudly, vehemently, and repeatedly proclaimed as “historic”, the government will doubtless have to walk the path of reform very cautiously. The Modi government’s image among its supporters is that of resolute strength and invincibility. There is one earlier example of the Narendra Modi government withdrawing similarly. During its previous term, the Modi government had withdrawn a contentious ordinance, which was brought to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013.
These three ordinances — The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020; The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 — were replaced the aforementioned Acts that were passed by Parliament in September 2020.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states have been camping at Delhi’s borders since November 2020 in protest against the three legislations, 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. The protests have continued for over a year as deliberations between the government and farmers unions failed.