At 9 am today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on concerns of farmers and agricultural laws. He said that the process of repealing the three farm laws would be completed during the upcoming session of the Parliament.
“We tried our best to explain to farmers. We were even ready to modify the laws, suspend them too. The matter reached the Supreme Court as well. In view of this, we are repealing the farm laws. We appeal to farmers, on this auspicious day of Guru Purab, to return to your homes, to your fields. I assure you that I will work even harder to realise your dreams,” said PM Modi.
The Prime Minister mentioned that the government took a comprehensive approach and worked on seeds, insurance, markets, and savings. In addition to ensuring good seeds, the government connected farmers with other resources such as neem-coated urea, soil health cards, and micro-irrigation. “We worked to provide farmers with seeds at reasonable rates and facilities like micro-irrigation, 22 crore soil health cards. Such factors have contributed to increased agriculture production. We strengthened Fasal Bima Yojana, brought more farmers under it,” said the prime minister.
Additionally, he noted that the government has taken steps to ensure that farmers receive fair prices for their produce as a result of their hard work, and that India’s rural market infrastructure has also been strengthened. He also spoke about creating a record number of government procurement stores as well as increasing MSP.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation today on the occasion of Dev Deepawal and Guru Nanak Jayanti, and spoke about the teachings of the first Sikh guru. “Guru Nanak ji said Vich Duniya Sev Kamaiye Taan Dargah Baisan Paiyeea… It means that only by taking the path of service to the nation can life turn out well. Our government has been working with this sense of service, to make the lives of people easy,” said the Prime Minister.
He also mentioned the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor between India and Pakistan and said he was happy that it was reopened after about 20 months. The Prime Minister was scheduled to hand over the Advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) system to the Indian Navy and inaugurate agricultural development projects in Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh later in the day.
In the minutes following the announcement that the three farm laws introduced last year will be repealed, Rahul Gandhi was among several party leaders who took to Twitter to express their reactions. Prime Minister Modi’s announcement to cancel the farm laws caused no delay in provoking Gandhi, whose party has been a fierce critic of the farm laws. “The country’s farmers have defeated arrogance with their satyagraha. Jai Hind, Jai Hind’s farmers,” tweeted Gandhi, along with an old tweet from January this year where he said, “Mark my words, the government will have to take back the anti-farm laws.”
The Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait described the announcement to withdraw the three contentious farm bills as a positive step, however, stressing that farmers will only return home once the decision is duly implemented by the Parliament. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella group of farmers spearheading the protest, will convene on Saturday to discuss the situation and review what has happened so far.
Many other opposition leaders tweeted congratulatory messages for farmers, as well as sarcastic comments about the Modi government. “Arrogance loses. From hubris to on your knees,” tweeted Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, without naming anyone. His party has vocally opposed the farm laws. Responding to the announcement, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “My heartfelt congratulations to every single farmer who fought relentlessly and were not fazed by the cruelty with which BJP treated you. This is your victory. My deepest condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones in this fight.”
The government has long been accused of not listening to the protesting farmers. It ended the matter a week before the protest would complete one year on November 27. Farmers who have been camped on the outskirts of Delhi for a year had been insisting that the laws be repealed completely. In their view, the new laws would have given private corporations control over the farm sector. This allegation was denied by the government, which even offered to amend the laws. However, this was not acceptable to the farmers.
Although there is excitement over the fulfilment of the farmers’ protest, people believe it is simply another gimmick to win the upcoming elections. While people are celebrating the victory of the protest, they are also questioning the government’s ability and precedence to act decisively. The climbdown on farm laws has opened a Pandora’s box of expectations for other contentious issues like Article 370 and CAA. In any case, the announcement certainly brings hope to anyone who has protested the numerous laws and amendments over the past seven years of the Modi-led government’s leadership.