India’s Modi says will repeal controversial farm laws

Nov 19, 2021: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he has decided to repeal three controversial farm laws against which farmers have been protesting for more than a year.

Addressing the nation on Friday morning, Modi said, “Today I have come to tell you, the whole country, that we have decided to withdraw the three agricultural laws.”

“In the Parliament session starting later this month, we will complete the constitutional process to repeal these three agricultural laws.” He added.

The laws that farmers object to, introduced in September last year, deregulate the sector, allowing farmers to sell produce to buyers outside government-run wholesale markets, where farmers Minimum Price (MSP) is guaranteed.

Small farmers say the changes make them competitive with the big business, and that they may eventually lose the support of the price of important commodities such as wheat and rice. The government says reforms in the sector, which accounts for about 15 percent of the  $2.7 trillion economy, mean new opportunities for farmers and better prices.

Modi said the laws were meant to empower small farmers, but the government failed to persuade some farmers who were opposed to the new laws.

Following the announcement, farmer leader Darshan Pal said that it was a success of the farmers’ movement. “This is because of the farmers’ unity, their constant struggle, and I congratulate the farming community for their unity, their struggle that they have finally won,” Pal said while talking to told Al Jazeera News.

Citing Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, he said, “Finally, after a year of struggle, despite 700 testimonies, facing the oppression of the BJP government, the farmers have won.” ‘ Rakesh Tikait of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers Union) said that the farmers’ protest would not be withdrawn immediately.

“We will wait for the day when agricultural laws will be repealed in Parliament. Along with MSP, the government should also discuss other issues of farmers,” he tweeted.

The government has so far yielded very little result in the protests that posed the biggest political challenge to Modi, who won the elections for the second time in 2019. In November last year, farmers intensified their movement by hunting on the outskirts of New Delhi, where they have been camping for almost a year, including a severe cold and an outbreak of the corona virus that destroyed India earlier this year.

While the farmers’ protest movement has been largely peaceful, in January, protesters broke through police barricades to storm the historic Red Fort in Delhi’s old quarters. One protester was killed and hundreds were injured in clashes with police.

Last month, eight more people were killed during protests in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, where Modi’s BJP hopes to retain power in the Assembly elections early next year.

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