Modi announces repeal of 3 farm laws, Oppn hails ‘victory of farmers’



New Delhi: 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.

Rakesh Tikait of the Bharat Kisan Union (BKU), a prominent leader of the farmers’ agitation, said, “Our agitation will not end soon. We will wait till the laws are repealed in the Parliament. We demand that the government discuss MSP and other issues with the farmers.”

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.”

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took to twitter to express solidarity with the farmers. “First, bulldoze laws in Parliament. Then face unprecedented protests. Thereafter, confront election realities in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, particularly. Finally, after much appeal, repeal. Kisan-ity prevails at last! I salute the tenacity of our kisans who did not give up,” he said.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too lauded the step and tweeted: “Great news! Thankful to PM Narendra Modi ji for acceding to the demands of every Punjabi & repealing the 3 black laws on the pious occasion of #GuruNanakJayanti. I am sure the central government will continue to work in tandem for the development of Kisan.

 Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that the government had agreed to repeal the three farm laws only because it had understood that they would face reverses in the upcoming elections.

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram also 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.

Taking to Twitter, the Trinamool chief 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”.

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.

Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to repeal the three farm laws, Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS) Working President K.T. Rama Rao on Friday said the power of people is always greater than the people in power. – IANS

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