Why Prime Minister Modi pulled back India’s thorny farm regulations 2021

It is both a strategic and political move on the part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a tardy acknowledgment of the country’s speed, high-handedness, and lack of legislative acumen on the part of the Indian government.


Efforts to de-regulate the market had prompted an unprecedented wave of protest in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, and the rules presented a severe threat to Mr. Modi’s ability to lead the country.

They had mobilized farmers and civil society in Punjab, which has a large Sikh population and had moved fast to portions of Uttar Pradesh, which would host important elections early next year. Following the negative backlash, Mr. Modi’s government reacted by calling the protestors names and remaining firm in its stance on the issue.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had not anticipated such a backlash, has been working hard to appease the Sikhs.

A large portion of its executive meeting earlier this month was devoted to assuaging the community’s sentiments, including increasing farm budget and crop prices, re-opening a historic corridor to one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines in Pakistan, and launching a new investigation to punish those responsible for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, among other measures.

In addition, the administration was plainly becoming concerned about the growing dissatisfaction of the Sikh community with regard to the legislation in place.

Punjab, a crucial border province, might draw somber lessons from the past: a violent separatist movement in the 1980s was fueled by a similar sense of alienation among the people, as was the case today.

There were warnings issued by members of the party’s faithful. “They [the general public] are very uninformed of Sikhs, in particular… Gurus [spiritual leaders of society] fought with the Mughal emperor, who was unarmed at the time of the war.. Consequently, they should not be disturbed “Earlier this year, Satyapal Malik, a former BJP vice president and current governor of the state of Meghalaya, stated that

With the repeal of the laws, Mr. Modi seeks to win back the trust of farmers in general, and Sikhs specifically, in his administration.

The verdict is yet out on whether or not it will help his party’s chances in the next state elections… Things haven’t been going well lately: prices are rising, unemployment is rampant, and an already-fragile economy is struggling to claw its way out of the pandemic recession.

Farmers have taken to the streets in protest, and in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP’s own leaders have been accused of inciting violence against them. On the campaign trail for local elections in Punjab, party leaders have been met with a barrage of violent protests.

“When things aren’t going your way, you make a move in order to prevent your opponents from gaining an advantage from the unfolding situation. The abolition of the farm rules is intended to do this in a variety of ways “Rahul Verma, a fellow at the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think tank, shared his thoughts with me about the situation.

Many people do not believe that the move will have a significant impact on the BJP’s electoral prospects. In Punjab, the BJP can only hope to make marginal gains, if any at all.

Some gains for the BJP could be seen in western Uttar Pradesh, which elects 60 to 80 percent of the state’s 403 members of the state legislature. By preventing a probable loss of seats in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP hopes to win the state “comfortably” and position itself to compete in the 2024 general election on a solid footing in the country’s largest democracy.

Regarding the removal of the agriculture laws, it demonstrates the BJP’s lack of legislative experience and ability. Mr. Modi’s apparently radical changes, which were rammed through the parliament, have stalled: his government has failed to execute a land acquisition law, and the rules of new labor laws, as well as controversial citizenship legislation, have been postponed or scrapped altogether.

In part, this can be linked to the party’s failure to interact with the opposition in parliament and its haste in passing legislation.

At least in the short term, Mr. Modi’s fans are likely to be disappointed by a leader who they consider to be brave and decisive. The opposition will take heart from this victory. In addition, Mr. Modi’s reputation of invincibility is tarnished; nonetheless, it is obvious that enormous protests can still unnerve a government that controls with a brute majority in Delhi and confronts little opposition from a beleaguered opposition movement.

The fact that Mr. Modi is skilled at shifting the narrative in his favor means that his political communication on the rollback in the coming days will be closely watched.

In the case of those who had backed the farm reforms, it serves as a timely reminder that good economics may frequently lead to bad politics.

Even more so when there is a lack of mutual confidence between the most important stakeholders, the farmers, and the government, and when politics is partisan and non-consultative.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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