New Delhi (Associated Press)-In a surprising announcement, IndiaPrime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that his government will revoke a controversial agricultural law that has caused tens of thousands of farmers to protest for a year and poses a major political challenge to his government.
The decision is a major retrogression for the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Modi. The party enjoys an absolute majority in the parliament but is often accused by opposition leaders and constitutional experts of forcibly passing laws without full consultation. This decision was also made before key elections in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. On the day of Guru Purab, Sikhs, who made up the majority of the protesters, celebrated the birthday of their founder, Guru Nanak.
Modi announced the news in a live televised speech, and he has chosen this media for many years to disclose some of his government’s landmark and sometimes controversial decisions. He urged the protesters to return to their homes and stated that the constitutional process for repealing these laws will begin when the parliament holds its winter session in December.
Modi said in his speech: “While apologizing to the country, I want to say with a sincere and pure heart that our efforts may be missing something, and we cannot explain the truth to some of our farmer brothers.” He continued: ” Let’s start again.”
The law was passed in September last year, and Modi’s party refused to extend the debate despite repeated requests from the opposition.
For a year, the government has defended these laws, calling them necessary reforms for modernization. IndiaIn the agricultural sector and promote production through private investment. But farmers protested that the legislation would end guaranteed pricing and force them to sell crops to companies at cheaper prices, thereby destroying their income.
The perceived threat to their income frightens farmers, most of whom are engaged in small-scale jobs: more than two-thirds own less than 1 hectare (2 1/2 acres) of land.
The provisions in the legislation also prevent farmers from resolving contract disputes in court, leaving them with no independent remedy other than government-appointed bureaucrats.
The protests escalated in November last year as farmers hid in the suburbs of New Delhi, where they camped for almost a year, including through the harsh winter and the destructive coronavirus surge India Earlier this year.
Although the protests were basically peaceful, in January demonstrators broke through police roadblocks and stormed into the historic Red Fort in the center of the capital. The clash with the police resulted in the death of a protester and hundreds of injuries.
“In the end, all our hard work has been rewarded. Thank you to all the peasant brothers and pay tribute to the peasant brothers who died in this battle,” said Laksh Tikeet, a famous peasant leader.
Dozens of farmers died during the demonstrations due to suicide, bad weather conditions and COVID-19. They have since received international support from activists and celebrities, including climate activist Greta Thunberg and American singer Rihanna.
In Gazipur, one of the demonstration sites on the outskirts of New Delhi, although some farmers distributed candies and cracked biscuits, the celebration was suppressed.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an agricultural trade union that organized the protest, said it welcomes the government’s statement.But it stated that the protests will continue until the government assures them that the prices of certain basic crops are guaranteed-a system introduced in the 1960s to help India Strengthen its food reserves and prevent shortages.
The government initially contacted the farmers and proposed to suspend the law for 18 months to end the most severe challenge to Modi. But farmers continue to demand a total abolition and call for strikes across the country.
Modi’s unexpected decision is seen as the main political line before the key state polls, especially in northern Punjab, where the Sikh community is facing increasing alienation due to the law. His government is already under pressure to deal with the pandemic and the troubled economy.
In the face of fierce criticism of other measures taken by his government, the 71-year-old leader has remained steadfast, such as the sudden ban on large-denomination banknotes in 2016 and the abolition of the semi-autonomous power of Muslim-majority Kashmir in 2019.
Modi also supports a citizenship law that Muslims consider to be indiscriminate, although most parts of the country were shaken by the law in 2019, and sometimes violent protests occurred.
Gilles Verniers, a professor of political science at Ashoka University in New Delhi, said the statement is significant, but the government will find it difficult to convince farmers that it abolished these laws for reasons other than election benefits.
Viniers said: “It is extremely unusual for the Modi government to retreat or retreat on major political decisions.” After being acrimonious and violent, it will be difficult to stick to this idea.”
Initially, the Modi government tried to discredit the Sikh peasants by treating the concerns of the Sikh peasants as motives for religious nationalism. Some leaders in the Modi party called them “Khalistans”, which refers to the independent Sikh homeland movement called “Khalistans” initiated in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
These allegations backfired and further angered the farmers.
Opposition leaders who earlier called the law exploitative and supported the protests congratulated the farmers.
“The farmers in this country, through their resistance, made arrogance bow their heads,” Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter. IndiaThe main opposition party, the Congress Party. “Congratulations on defeating injustice!”
Farmers are the most influential voting group IndiaPoliticians have long believed that it is unwise to alienate them, and farmers are particularly important to Modi’s base. Uttar Pradesh and several other states with large peasant populations are ruled by his party.
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