After almost two years of rigorous protests and withstanding the harsh Delhi winter, rain, and severe heat of Indian summer along with the threat posed by the pandemic, the farmers have finally come out victorious.
Today, the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced in a live telecast to the nation that his government has decided to repeal the three new farm laws that were passed previously. He also apologized for the trouble that the farmers had to go through as part of their protest.
The news has spread like wildfire across the nation, and farmers all over the country are celebrating in jubilation. Many agricultural experts believed that the laws were for the betterment of the farmers.
The community of political commentators was taken aback by the sudden capitulation of Prime Minister Modi in the face of prolonged protest by the farming community. Mr. Modi has an image of a muscular leader and is not known to back track after having taken a decision.
Even though there was severe criticism, Mr. Modi did not roll back demonetisation which brought about a severe downturn in the economy. So, the present roll back of the farm laws has come as a surprise for many Modi admirers.
But there was no other way of resolving this conflict. The farmers were adamant about their resolve to get the laws repealed. Around 700 farmers lost their lives during the protest which was largely peaceful barring a few incidences of violence.
The farmers had laid siege to the capital and were sitting around its borders. There was palpable anger among the people in Punjab, Haryana and Western UP because of the obstinacy of the government regarding the farm laws.
The Prime Minister refused to even negotiate with the farmers even though they were willing and ready. Moreover, the manner in which the laws were passed in the parliament through promulgating ordinances and without even a debate left a bad taste in the mouth at the outset.
This gave the impression that there was something fishy about the laws because of which the government was ramming them through parliament using the ordinance route rather than engaging in meaningful debate as is the norm. There was no attempt build any consensus either with the allies or the opposition.
The Shiromani Akali Dal left the NDA after the bills were passed as they knew the laws would create a severe backlash in Punjab as the farmers in Punjab would be severely hit by the laws. Quite naturally, the farmers there were at the forefront of the agitation.
The basic problem with the farm laws was the way they were passed. The government was riding the high horse of a brute majority in the parliament and used it to rubber stamp the promulgated ordinances as law.
This undermines an important canon of democracy which is a parliamentary debate and approval before passing of a law. This reduced parliamentary debate to a mere inconsequential academic exercise. This apparently did not go down very well with the farmers as well as the rest of the country.
Agriculture is a politically sensitive issue as nearly half the population is depended on it either directly or indirectly. This is a generational occupation passed on to successive descendants as a family legacy. The laws have completely overturned the apple cart. Naturally, the reaction was swift and widespread.
As they say, act in haste and regret in leisure. The farmers are happy but not satisfied with just the repeal of laws. They now demand a legal guarantee of MSP (Minimum support price) for their produce. There are five other demands that the farmers are making.
The farmers of Punjab have been experiencing a steady decline in their income over the years. The Green Revolution has run its course, and there was need for agricultural reforms which the new farm laws would have ushered in.
But the Modi government was unable to communicate these to the farmers in the language they would have understood. Thing got complicated because the political messaging was not right either. The Modi government thought that Prime Minister Modi’s popularity would ensure that the laws are accepted across the country.
But this is far from the truth. The Modi magic does not work in Punjab. In fact, the Sikhs resent the homogenizing attitude of BJP-RSS. The politically ideology of RSS-BJP which treats Sikhism as an offshoot of Hinduism is not accepted by the Sikhs who think that the two religions are inseparable but different.
When the government to their utter surprise and chagrin found that the Sikhs were not falling in line, they started maligning their protest by calling them Sikh radicals of Khalistan movement, anti-nationals and also ISI agents.
This infuriated the farmers no end and they started agitating more resolutely. It is this resoluteness that was put to test in unfortunate incident of Lakhimpur Kheri. The incident enraged the entire farming country in the country.
All these factors cumulatively forced the Prime Minister to repeal the laws and start afresh. The Prime Minister apologizing for the laws reinforced the democratic spirit of the country which was being increasingly coming under attack because of the autocratic behavior of the government. As they say, it is never too late to mend.
EDITED AND PROOFREAD BY NIKITA SHARMA