Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his unexpected, and what some of his fans would call ‘masterstroke’, speeches. And on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, PM Modi dropped a similar bomb. However, this announcement has left Modi’s followers high and dry and those who opposed his governmental actions extremely satisfied.
PM Modi announced that the government will repeal the three contentious farm laws in the next Parliament session (which is scheduled on November 29), after 1 year, 1 month and 29 days of passing the bills in Rajya Sabha.
"Maybe something was lacking from our side that we were unable to convince some farmers about the laws. But today is Prakash Parv, and not the time for a blame game. Today, I want to announce that we have decided to repeal the three farm laws," PM Modi said in an address to the nation.
The farm laws had invited the wrath of farmers from across the country, especially those from North India. Thousands of farmers, through winter, summer and monsoon protested against the 'black laws', demanding that the government take them back.
Protestors and opposition refused to buy into the government's argument that the laws will be beneficial for small farmers, and feared unfair competition, and greater corporatisation of agriculture.
Here are 10 points to sum up the announcement, what it means, and people’s reactions:
1. PM MODI APOLOGISES
PM Narendra Modi apologised to the country as he took back the three farm laws. But he didn’t apologise for the alleged ‘bad’ in the laws. He apologised for not being able to convince the ‘one group’ of protesting farmers about the benefits of the laws.
"We have been unable to convince farmers. A section of them was opposing the laws, while other farmers beleived the laws to be beneficial. We kept trying to educate and inform the protesting farmers," PM Modi said.
2. FARMER LEADER RAKESH TIKAIT SAYS PROTEST WILL CONTINUE
Top farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said that the protest will continue till the laws are officially repealed in the Parliament.
“We shall take a decision on the withdrawal of protests only after the laws are scrapped after due Parliamentary procedures. The other issues of the farmers also need to be discussed,” he said in a tweet.
3. LARGEST BODY OF FARMERS WELCOMES DECISION
Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which is the largest farmers’ body with 40 unions under its umbrella and who have been protesting against the laws, said that they welcome the decision, but will wait for the parliamentary procedures. They also put out a reminder: the government is responsible for the nearly 700 farmers who were martyred during the struggle.
4. POLITICS OVER GOVERNANCE?
The Prime Minister’s announcement is not just in response to the protests. The announcement has political significance too. BJP is seeking re-election in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls in 2022. And it is also fighting polls in Punjab at the same time, even though the BJP has relatively small presence in the state.
Several top BJP leaders like Amit Shah are extensively touring Uttar Pradesh to grasp the mood on the ground. The impact of farmers' protest and the farm laws have also been taken into consideration. Farmers from western Uttar Pradesh extended their solidarity to the protesting farmers, amid their ongoing grievances with sugarcane procurement price and high electricity bills.
5. PM MODI CHOSE GURU NANAK JAYANTI FOR THE ANNOUNCEMENT
That the Prime Minister chose the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti for the announcement is no coincidence. Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated across India and the world, but mainly in Punjab. Sikhs commemorate the birth anniversary of their founder Guru Nanak. Punjab assembly elections are in three months and it helps the fact that a significant portion of the protesting farmers are also Sikhs.
6. LAKHIMPUR KHERI VIOLENCE
Another significant development recently with regard to the farmers protest was the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. Union Minister Ajay Misra's son Ashish Misra, accused of running over protesting farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, is currently in jail. The incident led to more bad blood between the agitating farmers and the Central government. While Misra has denied mowing down the farmers, he's still behind bars and an investigation is underway.
7. CELEBRATIONS AT FARMERS PROTEST SITE
Protesting farmers at Ghazipur border celebrated the announcement and the ‘victory’ of their movement with jalebis.
8. SUPPORTERS OF FARM LAWS ‘DISAPPOINTED’
Indian Twitter is in a flurry of trends related mostly to the Prime Minister’s announcement. One of the trends was the word ‘disappointed’. People who had supported the three farm laws were disappointed that the government would fold to the demands of some farmers; they thought were being misled by ‘anti-national’ and ‘politically motivated’ elements.
9. MEMES GALORE ON TWITTER
Is there too much seriousness in the announcement? Fret not, Twitterati are here to make light of the situation and induce some chuckles and some ire as you process the bombshell announcement.
10. OTHER ROLLBACK OF POLICIES BY GOVT
The repeal of the three farm laws is a big retreat by the Modi government. Before this, the government also had to withdraw a contentious Central Land Acquisition ordinance after stiff opposition during its previous term. The repeals send a message that public opinion can move the decisions of parliamentary majority.