New Farm Laws To Be Repealed, Says Prime Minister Modi
After holding out for over a year in the face of protests by farmers from across Northern India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has finally reconsidered.
The Government of India will repeal the three farm laws enacted in 2020, Modi announced in an address to the nation on Friday morning. The government will initiate the process to repeal these laws at the end of November, in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament, he said.
Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union, said the farmers' protests will stop only when the laws have been repealed.
Supreme Court-appointed farm panel member Anil Ghanwat told the Press Trust of India the move was "the most regressive step by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he chose politics over farmers' betterment".
Former Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, who recently quit the Indian National Congress after being asked to vacate the top post in the state, thanked the Prime Minister for the announcement. Singh had sought the repeal when he met Union Home Minsiter Amit Shah in September, following his resignation as chief minister. Singh's weeks-old Punjab Lok Congress party is seen as allying with the Bharatiya Janata Party for the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections in early-2022.
Meanwhile, leaders of opposition parties have welcomed the news of impending repealment. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on social media that the farmers' protests had forced the government to reconsider.
Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal and leader of the All India Trinamool Congress congratulated the farmers movement for having "fought relentlessly".
Calling the repeal of the laws "a wise-step", Ajay Vir Jakhar—Chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj and former chairman of the Punjab State Farmers Commission—said "farmer unions should consider to tactically suspend the agitation and allow space for the Prime Minister to deliver."
Over A Year OF Protests
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 had been passed in the Monsoon Session of Parliament in 2020, but their implementation was stayed by the Supreme Court in January 2021. In March, a committee appointed by the court submitted its report on the laws but it has yet to be made public.
Farmers, predominantly from Punjab and Haryana, have staged unrelenting protests against the three laws. Their concerns ranged from entry of large corporations to loss of minimum support prices. They refused to accept a government offer to defer the laws and said only a repeal was acceptable. One such protest turned violent in Delhi and served as as setback, yet the agitation continued, albeit in a more muted way these past few months.
The Prime Minister said on Friday, the government had made all efforts to reach out to stakeholders to convey its intent in these laws but it failed to do so and hence will now repeal them. Modi also said the government would constitute a committee with representatives from the centre, states and farmer bodies, agricultural scientists and economists to improve the minimum support price regime and make it more effective.