UP polls have influenced the decision of farm laws repeal more than Punjab election as the Lakhimpur-Kheri incident spread the protest to its eastern borders.
In a surprising u-turn, Modi has announced to repeal the three farm laws that sparked almost year-long massive and democratic protests by the farmers. While addressing the nation today on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, the prime minister has said that his cabinet will take the decision next month. Guru Nanak Jayanti is one most celebrated festivals in Punjab, where polls are due in a few months.
“In the Parliament session starting at the end of this month, we will complete the process of repealing the three laws,” PM Modi said in an address.
Meanwhile, Modi has blamed the lack of preparedness in executing the bill led to the failure of convincing the benefits to farmers. “Maybe something was lacking in our Tapasya (efforts), which is why we could not convince some farmers about the laws. But today is Prakash Parv, not the time to blame anyone,” he added.
Congress: farm laws repeal influenced by the upcoming election
Right after the announcement, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to congratulate farmers. He wrote, “Anyay (injustice) has bowed down to the Satyagraha of the food giver of the nation (farmers).”
Senior Congress leaders have said that upcoming electoral situations in Punjab and UP have influenced the decision of farm laws repeal. Priyanka Gandhi, who heads the Congress party in the poll-bound UP, has said that this is election stunts. She wrote, “This country belongs to the farmers, and they are the true caretaker of this country. No government can crush their interest in this country,” she said.
Veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram said that the fear of elections had propelled the change than a policy change by heart.
“What cannot be achieved by democratic protests can be achieved by the fear of impending elections! PM’s announcement on the withdrawal of the three farm laws is not inspired by a change of policy or a change of heart…” the Rajya Sabha MP tweeted.
The stunning announcement is made right before the 2022 state elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the states deemed as most affected by the dense and widespread protests across its perimeter. The farmers protest against the bills is touted to have a swing effect in these state assembly polls.
Even if the repeal is slightly politically influenced, the decision might be changed after the elections or brought into action in some other way. “To make MSP more effective and transparent, a committee will be constituted to take decisions on all such issues, keeping in view the future. The committee will have representatives from central government, state governments, farmers, agricultural scientists, agricultural economists,” Modi said.
The Significance of Farm Laws and the protest in UP and Punjab polls
Punjab is indeed the farming capital of India. Since the bills were announced, most of Punjab’s farmers started protesting against them. Both old and women farmers and their sympathizers have joined the protest in Delhi borders. To stop them, the border roads were sealed and laid with nails.
Due to these protests and the three draconian laws, BJP and their allies are predicted to win zero seats in Punjab. Regional parties like Shiromani Akali Dal or SAD also broke their alliance with BJP after the massive protests against the three bills in Punjab. SAD constituted a 27.76% vote share of 37.08% as an ally party of NDA from Punjab.
Farms laws will affect the UP polls more than the Punjab election. The protest began in August 2020, which led to farmers reaching Delhi borders followed by violent face-offs with the police. The rural farming families of the state was more affected by the decision. BJP won 324 seats in UP 2017 polls, contributed largely by the rural votes.
Right now, BJP is keen to cut down the anticipated losses in UP that contributes 80 Lok Sabha seats and has 403 assembly seats. The effects of the protest remained confined in the western borders of Uttar Pradesh, a region deemed as a BJP stronghold.
Recently, the death of farmers in Avadh’s Lakhimpur-Kheri has amplified the effect and helped it to spread in eastern UP. Earlier the protests were limited to the western borders as the small and marginal farmers in the east believed that the farm laws would affect the well-off Jat farmers in western UP. But the Lakhimpur-Kheri violence took the message around to the small farmers who believed that the state won’t leave them at the mercy of the big players with deep pockets.
Also, Jats have proven themselves as BJP supporters in the last state election. But these years, they were seen inclining towards the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) founded by the late Ajit Singh, the scion of Charan Singh, and inherited by his son. Jat farmers from the West UP were the principal beneficiaries of Chaudhary Charan Singh’s land redistribution measures during his tenure as the CM.
This year they were predicted to be one of the key decision-makers in the elections, especially in the western UP. West UP has around 70 seats. Though Jats were inclined to BJP due to their Hindutva propagandism, incidents mentioned above began questioning the real intent of the laws. The situation further worsened for BJP with unseasonal rains and their adverse effect on paddy and fertilizer shortages.
The farm laws repeal decision will also affect the Haryana polls as the laws have systematically affected recent bypolls.
Farmer and other opposition reaction to farm laws repeal
MK Stalin, the CM of Tamil Nadu, has welcomed the decision on Twitter. He said that history teaches that people’s wishes shall prevail in a democracy.
Senior CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has said that it’s pity that no one pity’s the death of 750 farmers and year-long agitations, and even abuse.
Mamata Banerjee, the Bengal CM, has also congratulated the farmers. She wrote, “My heartfelt congratulations to every single farmer who fought relentlessly and were not fazed by the cruelty with which @BJP4India treated you. This is YOUR VICTORY!”
However, the farmers are questioning the government about the delay in the decision. They have said that the PM took around a year to announce the repeal after more than 700 farmers had died.