Repeal of the Agricultural Laws: The Covert Transformation of Future Indian Politics

  • CB Yadav

On December 09, ‘Samyunkta Kisan Morcha’ announced for suspension of the longest farmers’ movement, run on such a large scale in world history. With this, the farmers’ fronts all around Delhi have become vacant. In India, at a time when the entire propaganda system has been drenched in the atmosphere of religious hysteria and hatred, the continuation of the farmers’ movement peacefully and non-violently for such a longtime, inspired sociologists and political scientists to research it for years. It will also be a matter of research that after all, what would have been the reasons behind the unconditional repeal of all the three agricultural laws by suddenly apologizing to the farmers of the country by Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Was it the fear of defeat in the UP and Uttarakhand elections due to farmers’ anger or would there be some other intense reason behind it? As the fear of defeat for BJP in the upcoming elections is being cited by most of the analysts as one of the main reasons for forcing the government to repeal the Bill, it is bound to raise the question whether this loss to the BJP will be reduced by the repeal of the agricultural laws? It also raises the question that what did the country get from this farmers’ movement? And did this farmers’ movement calm down forever? Or does it hide the seeds of major political changes of the future? Answering all these questions requires deep thinking and logical analysis.

Certainly, as has been the opinion of most analysts that the central government had realised through its intelligence information that after Punjab and Haryana, the farmers’ movement in UP and Uttarakhand also had a huge impact on the mind of the people. Due to which the ‘Bhartiya Janata Party’ will have to pay its price in the form of defeat in the upcoming assembly elections. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot back down against his image for this one reason only. There may be other reasons behind the Prime Minister’s U-turn to repeal the agricultural laws. The first and foremost reason must have been that the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an anti-farmer was becoming stronger due to this farmers’ movement. As a politician, he understands very well that no ‘Anti-farmer face’ can occupy the power of this country. That’s why the fear of the impact of the farmers’ movement in the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2024 over UP and Uttarakhand has prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to back down from his image.

The repeal of three agricultural laws was announced in the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on November 19, but an interesting situation we see here that this announcement had no effect on the agitating farmers. It can be a matter of great shame for the head of any country that the people there are not believing even the address made by him to the nation. It becomes clear to what level the Prime Minister of the country has lost his credibility. In fact, the main reason behind this has been the repeated betrayal of farmers by the Central Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

If we look at some examples, the picture becomes clearer: First, in an election speech in 2016, the Prime Minister said that by 2022, the farmers’ income will double. After that, it was repeated continuously in every budget speech and in public meetings. But even after 2022 is coming very close, the government is not able to make it clear how much the income of the farmer has increased? Recently, the NSO data released by the central government shows that in the first five years of these, agricultural income has declined instead of increasing. Second, in the BJP manifesto of 2014, it was promised to implement the Swaminathan Commission report and Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly mentioned it in his election campaign in public meetings. At the same time, in 2015, the Central Government, in an affidavit given on its behalf in the Supreme Court, made it clear that the Central Government cannot do this at all. Thirdly, in 2011, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the committee constituted under his chairmanship had advocated the guarantee of MSP. But as the Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi is completely silent on this issue. Fourth, the Prime Minister himself ridiculed the agitating farmers in Parliament and called them ‘Andolanjivi.’ Thus, it becomes clear that the farmers had completely lost their faith in the Prime Minister in the past several incidents. This is the reason that even after the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, the agitating farmers did not believe in the announcement of repeal of the agricultural laws and they did not consider it appropriate to consider withdrawing the agitation until they were passed in the parliament. This question, which stood on the credibility of the Prime Minister, was the subject of discussion not only at Indian as well as international media and political circles of the world.

Now an important question remains whether the announcement of the Repeal of the three agricultural laws will reduce the loss to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand? It depends on whether the farmers consider the Prime Minister’s announcement of the Repeal of three agricultural laws as the change of heart of the Prime Minister or consider it the achievement of farmers’ movement? Leave aside the agitating farmers, the public of India is also of the opinion that the Prime Minister’s announcement of the repeal of the three agricultural laws has actually been possible only because of the continuous non-violent and peaceful movement of the farmers. If this opinion is correct, then the repeal of the three agricultural laws is not seen as an achievement of the central government but as a huge defeat for it. Farmers consider the central government or Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the culprit for death of more than 700 farmers in farmers’ movement. It is well-known to the agitating farmers that the Prime Minister, who expressed grief and regret over every small and big incident, never expressed regret over the death of more than 700 farmers. It is also deeply ingrained in him that due to his insistence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi forced the farmers’ movement to go on for more than a year. It is well-known to the agitating farmers that the central government was doing diplomacy from day one to the end of the movement, by exhausting it and defaming it through its media apparatus or by fighting amongst the farmers’ organizations. The incident of Lakhimpur Kheri is still alive in the hearts and minds of the agitating farmers and the Prime Minister has still retained the accused Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni in his cabinet. The Prime Minister should make the face of a villain of farmers his ally, after all, how can the agitating farmers tolerate it! This is the reason why the repeal of three agriculture laws will not benefit the BJP in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand elections, but it has increased the confidence of the farmers, which will result in the coming assembly elections, the farmers will unite and try to give a tough message.

An important question arises that what big demand has been made by the farmers in their own interest through such a long agitation? After all, what was the benefit of the world’s longest running farmers’ movement? In fact, it requires deep thinking. The biggest advantage of the farmers’ movement was that in the second term, the Narendra Modi government was making laws against the common man and was capitalist centred. This movement has curbed that trend. Due to which the country has been saved from many autocratic and anti-people laws. The second advantage was that this farmers’ movement has not only boosted the morale of the farmers but also the people suffering in many other ways. This will once again strengthen the voice of protest ending in democracy. In this way, democracy has been revived in a way as a result of this farmers’ movement. Third, the farmers have benefited that now they have such an organization in the form of ‘Samyunkta Kisan Morcha,’ so that they can again unite with the whole country and can pressurize the government for fulfilling their demands.

Finally, it becomes necessary to evaluate whether the farmers’ movement has ended with the repeal of the three agricultural laws. In fact, the ‘Samyunkta Kisan Morcha’ has made it clear that this movement is not over, only temporarily suspended. If the government reverses the MSP guarantee law, then the farmers’ movement can be started again. From the standpoint so far, the policy of the Central Government is very clear that the demand for Minimum Support Price cannot be accepted at any cost. According to its tendency, the government will present some other model by including through our favouring of farmers’ organizations. In such a situation, a confident farmer of the country will once again take to the streets to convince his demand for MSP guarantee. Now they have a united voice of the opposition as well as a nationwide organization in the form of ‘Samyukt Kisan Morcha.’ So, it can be said with certainty that the farmers’ movement, which was stalled after the repeal of the three agricultural laws, is actually the sprout of a new movement. This new movement may be on a wider scale than before. This can also be the biggest issue for the opposition to oppose the government. Due to the anti-farmer image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the opposition can also make an election campaign by uniting on the issue of farmers in 2024. All these things are hidden in the womb of the future, but if the attitude of the government and the spirit of the farmers’ movement is understood, then there is a very strong possibility of such possibilities to be formed.

The Author is an Assistant Professor in University of Rajasthan, Jaipur