Modi announces repeal of three farm laws

New Delhi (IANS) A little more than a year after they were passed followed by widespread agitation by farmers declining to accept them, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that the Centre has decided to repeal the three farm laws.

Coinciding with the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Modi also announced that the constitutional process to repeal the laws would be taken up in the winter session of Parliament that begins on November 29 and appealed to the agitating farmers to withdraw their agitation and go back to their homes.

“It seems some of the farmers are still not convinced by our sincere efforts. We have decided to repeal the three farm laws. The constitutional process to repeal these laws would be completed during the Parliament Session that would start at the end of this month,” Modi said, adding an apology in his address to the nation.

Modi also announced to form a committee comprising representatives of the Centre, state governments, farmers, agriculture scientists and agriculture economists to discuss how Minimum Support Price (MSP) can be made more effective, how zero budget farming can be promoted and how crop patterns can be changed in a scientific manner.

After they were passed in the monsoon session of Parliament, the President had given his assent to the three Farm Bills on September 27, 2020. The three Bills were 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.

Ahead of these becoming laws and soon after that, farmers across the platforms had embarked on agitation, some of them peaceful, some resulting in damage to the government property, including the riotous agitation at the Red Fort on January 26 earlier this year, and also including the loss of lives of more than 600 farmers at various places during the agitation.

Hundreds of these farmers — most of them from western Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha — have been camping at various entry points to Delhi. They were not buying the Centre’s argument that the three farm laws would bring in reforms in the agriculture sector and basically remove the intermediaries, because of which the small farmers will benefit.

After the farmers’ agitation erupted, the Supreme Court had earlier in January 2021 stayed the three farm laws and appointed a committee, which had submitted its report, which is not yet made public.

The Prime Minister started his address, saying that the government’s intention was pure, and it had brought the three farm laws hoping to benefit the farmers, especially the small land holding farmers. “Despite our efforts, despite efforts by agriculture economists and agriculture scientists, we failed to convince a section of the farmers about the sincerity of our efforts,” he said.

“The objective of the three farm laws was that the farmers of the country, especially small land holding farmers should be strengthened, they should get right price for their produce and maximum options to sell the produce,” he said.

He also listed a number of steps that have been taken by his government for farmers’ benefits, including an increase in MSP and record procurement this year. “Beej, Beema, Bazar and Bachat (seeds, insurance, market availability and savings) are what we tried to bring for the small land holding farmers, many of whom supported our efforts. I am grateful to them,” he said.

FORMER Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh thanked Modi for repealing the three contentious agricultural laws and said he looked forward to working closely with the BJP-led Centre for the development of farmers.

“Great news! Thankful to PM @narendramodi ji for acceding to the demands of every Punjabi & repealing the 3 black laws on the pious occasion of #GuruNanakJayanti,” Amarinder Singh tweeted.

“I am sure the central govt will continue to work in tandem for the development of Kisani! #NoFarmers_NoFood @AmitShah.”

Amarinder Singh told a news channel after the announcement by Modi about the Centre’s decision to take back its farm laws that his party is ready to hold talks with the BJP on seat sharing for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab.

He appealed to the protesting farmers to end their protest outside borders of the national capital and return to their native places.

In a series of tweets, the former Chief Minister said, “This has not only come as huge relief to farmers but has paved way for Punjab’s progress. I look forward to working closely with @BJP4India led centre for development of Kisans. I promise Punjab’s people I won’t rest till I wipe every tear from every single eye.”

In another tweet he said, “Huge huge day for all of us in Punjab. I’d been pursuing the matter with Centre for last 1+ year & had met @narendramodi ji @AmitShah ji requesting them to heed the voice of our annadaatas. Really happy they’ve heard farmers & understood our concerns.”

Amarinder Singh on November 2 resigned from the Congress and sent a seven-page letter to party President Sonia Gandhi. He named his party the Punjab Lok Congress.

He had quit as the chief minister in September after a power tussle with state Congress Chief Navjot Sidhu.

 

AFTER the Prime Minister announced withdrawal of three farm laws, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has termed it as ‘win against injustice and arrogant government’.

In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi said: “Congratulations its win against the injustice, the farmers of the nation have compelled the arrogant govt to bend down through satyagraha.”

The Congress is jubilant that the farm laws have been withdrawn as Rahul Gandhi has been supporting the farmers and demanding the withdrawal.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister said, “The Gandhian form of agitation has shown its strength and compelled the government.”

Congress MP Manish Tewari said, “Struggle triumphs, arrogance wilts, Kisan Mazdoor ekta zindabad. Long Live Punjab,Punjabi and Punjabiyat.”

Soon after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Congress was quick to term it as ‘a decision taken in view of the forthcoming elections’.

P. Chidambaram said, “PM’s announcement on the withdrawal of the three farm laws is not inspired by a change of policy or a change of heart. It is impelled by fear of elections!”

“What cannot be achieved by democratic protests can be achieved by the fear of impending elections! Anyway, it is a great victory for the farmers and for the Congress party which was unwavering in its opposition to the farm laws,” he added

The three farm laws that were passed last year have been a cause of widespread agitation with a consortium of farmers staging protests, especially in northwest India and at Delhi’s doorsteps and earlier within the national capital too.

 

WELCOMING the Centre’s decision to repeal three farm laws, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) said that they will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures.

In a statement, the SKM said, “The Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi announced the Government of India’s decision to repeal all three anti-farmer, pro-corporate black laws first brought in as Ordinances in June 2020. He chose to announce this on Guru Nanak Jayanti.”

“Samyukt Kisan Morcha welcomes this decision and will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures,” the statement said.

The statement further said, “SKM also reminds the Prime Minister that the agitation of farmers is not just against the repeal of the three black laws, but also for a statutory guarantee to remunerative prices for all agricultural produce and for all farmers. This important demand of farmers is still pending. SKM will take note of all developments, hold its meeting soon and announce further decisions if any.”

 

WEST Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the farmers on their huge victory.

Taking to Twitter, she said: “My heartfelt congratulations to every single farmer who fought relentlessly and were not fazed by the cruelty with which @BJP4India treated you. This is your victory…

“My deepest condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones in this fight.”

Not only Banerjee, but MP and senior Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy said: “This is a victory for the farmers. The BJP government has decided to repeal these draconian laws because they understand that they will lose in the Assembly elections scheduled next year”.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha Member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said that the “Modi government has understood that they have lost the support of the people and they will be defeated in the Assembly polls in the five states scheduled next year”.

“They were afraid after the farmers threatened to go to the parliament in the next session starting from November 29.”

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said: “I am happy, very happy because the decision to repeal the three farm laws shows that there is no alternative to the people’s movement. It shows that in democracy people speak the last word. We are happy because we were also part of this movement. Farmer leader Hannan Mollah has been with the farmers fighting for their cause. Like Narendra Modi, it is time for Mamata Banerjee to realise that however autocratic he or she might be, nothing is more powerful than the common people and all will have to bow down infront of them.”

 

THE BJP believes Modi’s announcement to repeal three farm laws will help the party in the forthcoming Assembly polls.

The BJP is also eyeing political dividend in 40 Lok Sabha seats spread in Western UP, Haryana and Rajasthan in the next general election in 2024.
The saffron camp also feels that the decision will help the party to form an alliance with the newly launched party of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Punjab.
Since November last year, farmers from different states particularly from Punjab, Haryana and western UP have been staging protests at the borders of the national capital demanding repeal of the new farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP on their produce.
Rakesh Tikait has been leading the farmers protest at Ghazipur border which is one epicentre of the ongoing agitation along with Tikri and Singhu border where leaders from the farmer unions in Punjab have been blocking the highways for nearly one year.
A senior party leader said that the decision will not only end the agitation but help the party to reach out to the farmers with a message that the government is concerned about them.
“Amid a few demands, one demand to repeal the new laws has been finally accepted and now we hope farmers will end their agitation and return back to their villages. Prime Minister Modi’s message is very loud and clear that the government is ready to soften its stand for the interest of farmers, farmer’s welfare is the priority of this government,” he said.
The saffron party leaders feel that now its leaders in Punjab will not face violent protest and attack while participating in political activities.
The BJP, which is hoping to revive its fortune in Punjab, is fighting the election with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Earlier, Singh had said, “Hopeful of a seat arrangement with the BJP in 2022 Punjab Assembly polls if farmers protest is resolved in farmers’ interest.”
The party also feels that the decision to repeal the laws will also bring back Jats, who actively participated in farmers agitation, to the BJP.
“We know that the fate of all the Lok Sabha seats of Haryana, Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh is decided by the Jat community, which is crucial for formation of the government at the Centre. Hope this decision helps us to win back the support of the Jat community once again in these 40 Lok Sabha seats,” a senior party leader said.

 

 

THE TIMELINE:

 

June 5, 2020: The Centre brings in three ordinances claiming these will bring in reforms that are long pending, farmers can sell produce at better prices

July-August 2020: Protests erupt in parts of Punjab against the three farm laws

September 14, 2020: Government introduces the three bills in Lok Sabha

September 17, 2020: Lok Sabha passes all the three farm laws without much debate

September 20, 2020: Rajya Sabha passes the Bills, by voice vote

September 24, 2020: Punjab farmers declare a rail-roko agitation

September 27, 2020: President gives his assent to the farm laws

November 2020: Samyukta Kisan Morcha formed, it is a consortium of more than two dozen farmers’ organisation, mostly from Punjab but others join in too

November 26, 2020: Farmers’ march towards Delhi begins, police put hurdles in many ways, including by digging up highways and spreading nails on the roads

November 27, 2020: Ultimately, farmers in large numbers reach Singhu border, Tikri border, Ghazipur border bring in tractors and trolleys, set pandals, langars cater to the protesting farmers

November 28, 2020: Government offers to talk with a condition that farmers shift to Burari; farmers demand Ram Lila Maidan as the venue

December 3-9, 2020: Government starts talks with farmers, farmers’ leaders reject government’s proposal of amendment to the three laws

December 11, 2020: Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) approaches the Supreme Court against the three farm laws

January 7-12, 2021: Supreme Court accepts to hear the case; stays implementation of the three laws and appoints a committee to make recommendations

January 20-25, 2021: Farmers reject government’s offers to stay the farm laws for 18 months and insist on repeal

January 26, 2021: Farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day; major clash with police; a set of protestors damage Red Fort, hoist the Khalsa flag along with the tricolour

January 27, 2021: A day after the Red Fort drama, Delhi Police forcibly put up barricades at all the borders where farmers’ groups are protesting

February 14, 2021: Bengaluru-based young activist Disha Ravi arrested for editing and spreading ‘toolkit’ in support of farmers’ agitation

March 5, 2021: Resolution passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha demanding withdrawal of the three laws

March 19, 2021: Supreme Court appointed committee submits its report

May 27, 2021: Farmers observe ‘black day’ to mark six months of the agitation

June 5, 2021: ‘Sampoorn Krantikari Diwas’ (Total Revolution Day) by farmers marking one year of ordinances that paved the way for three farm laws

July 22, 2021: ‘Kisan Sansad’ starts at Jantar Mantar in a parallel manner, with the Monsoon Session of the Parliament

August 7, 2021: 14 opposition parties’ leaders decide to visit ‘Kisan Sansad’

September 5, 2021: ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ held at Muzaffarnagar; farmers declare to oust Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Lucknow, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi

September 27, 2021: ‘Bharat Bandh’ call by farmers’ consortium gets mixed response; farmers do not enter Delhi, most action in north-west Indian states

September 7, 2021: Kisan Mahapanchayat held at Karnal, action shifts to Haryana

October 4, 2021: Four farmers among those killed when a car runs over protesting farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri

November 17, 2021: Supreme Court appoints retired High Court judge to probe Lakhimpur Kheri case

November 19, 2021: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces that three farm laws would be repealed

 

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