Yesterday (Updated: Yesterday)
© AP Photo / Altaf Qadri
Thousands of farmers in India have been protesting since November of last year against three farm laws enacted by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led federal government on 17 September 2020. There have already been 11 rounds of talks between protesting farmers and the government, but none bore any fruit.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that three controversial farm laws will be repealed and urged protesting farmers in different parts of the country to end their nearly year-long demonstrations.Friday’s announcement comes just ahead of the first anniversary of the farmers’ protest that has been going on in India at three border points on the outskirts of capital city Delhi – Tikri, Singhu, and Ghazipur since 26 November 2020.Significantly, the day also marks the celebration of the birthday of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, which is being commemorated on Friday in different parts of the country by Sikhs and people of Punjabi-origin.
In a television address to the nation on the occasion, Modi said: “[At] the parliament session beginning this month, we will complete the process of repealing the three farm laws”.Highlighting the federal government’s committment to the welfare of the nation’s farmers, the PM expressed regret that the authorities were unable to convince farmers about the benefits of the three farm laws.”The government has worked for the benefit of small farmers, who do not have more than 2 hectares of land to their name”, Modi said as he listed various schemes launched by the BJP government over the past few years to help double farmers’ income.The announcement carries major political importance as the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, with a heavy proportion of farmer voters, are set to witness legislative assembly elections in a few months.Thousands of farmers have protested against these three farm laws since November of last year. These pieces of legislation were passed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government in September 2020.The farmers fear that these laws will do away with the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave them at the mercy of big corporations. Thus, they have been demanding that these laws be revoked.
The three contentious farm laws are: 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) Ordinance 2020.
Soon after the announcement, reactions from opposition parties as well as farmers’ unions started pouring in. The opposition deemed it a victory for farmers, while the farmers’ unions said that this should not be seen as government alms, but rather our “right”.Senior Congress politician and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram called it a great win for the farmers and his party.
‘It’s a Win. Long Live Unity’: Farmer Union
Calling it a win for their almost year-long protest, Harinder Singh, a spokesperson for Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a farmer union, told Sputnik: “We’re delighted and happy after listening to the prime minister’s words. Our, one-year long struggle finally has achieved its goal”.”But, in this protest, we lost 700 farmers, if the decision would have [been] taken a while ago, we could have saved them”, Singh added.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, who has been the face of the farmers’ protest – tweeted, saying that the farmers’ protest will not be over until the farm laws are finally withdrawn in parliament.Tikait also demanded that the government hold discussions with the farmers on the minimum selling price and other issues.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha said that they will be holding unions meetings on Saturday.