On 19/11/2021 in his address to the nation at 9 a.m. Narendra Modi announced repeal of three farm laws. This was sudden like announcements of note ban and lockdown. Agitating farmers and opposition politicians were happy. Shetkari Sanghatana members were unhappy.
The three laws were:
- 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.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
There were protests against these laws by farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. In other parts of the country there were not many protests. Protesters had marched to Delhi. Some blocked roads. That caused inconvenience to many people. Governments did nothing to clear roads of intruders.
Ordinary farmers need to work and can not afford to go on strike and live in camps for almost a year. Those in camps were either rich farmers or were financed by rich people.
Some went to Supreme Court. Indian Government was ready to put on hold farm laws for 18-24 months. Supreme Court on 12/1/2021 stayed the operation of laws indefinitely and appointed a committee which submitted its report on 19/3/2021. Supreme Court did not hold any hearing on the case.
Modi chose Guru Nanak Jayanthi to announce repeal. Kartarpur corridor was reopened recently after closure of nearly 20 months. Elections are due in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and some other states. BJP’s alliance with SAD ended last year. Amarinder Singh recently quit Congress and founded Punjab Lok Congress. He said he was ready for alliance with BJP if it repealed farm laws. Way for BJP-PLC alliance is open.
Supreme Court appointed committee had three members – Anil Ghanwat, Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi. Anil Ghanwat is a Shetkari Sanghatana leader. He had written to Chief Justice of India on 1/9/2021 to release the report. He was critical of Modi. He said “This is the most regressive step by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he chose politics over farmers’ betterment.” About report he said “If the Supreme Court does not make it public, I will make it public.”
BJP does not have much to lose in Punjab. It has two MLAs. Whether the repeal makes any difference in UP is difficult to say. It is decline of Modi. He is shown as having feet of clay. His image as strong leader has suffered. Challengers can rise in BJP. Yogi had defied him. It is an opportunity for BJP members sidelined by Modi.