Modi takes U-turn, crumbles before huge farmers protests

Indian PM says will repeal all farm laws: Offers apology to peasants, asking them to call off protests, go home

By: News Desk      Published: 09:21 AM, 19 Nov, 2021
Modi takes U-turn, crumbles before huge farmers protests
Narendra Modi addresses the nation.

India will repeal three agricultural reform laws that have sparked almost a year of massive protests by farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday in a stunning U-turn.

"We have decided to repeal all three farm laws. We will start the constitutional process to repeal all the three laws in the parliament session that starts at the end of this month," Modi said in an address to the nation.

Modi, while addressing the nation on the occasion of Prakash Purab, assured the agitating farmers that the government will repeal the three contentious farm laws and the constitutional process for the same will begin soon.

Modi appealed to the farmers to call off their protests and return home.

Modi said, "I apologise to the countrymen that we were unable to take a section of farmers into confidence. We tried at all levels to take them into confidence. We were also prepared to modify the sections that they had objections about. However, despite our best efforts, some farmers were not convinced about the laws."

Modi said, "Today I want to tell everyone that we have decided to repeal all three farm laws."

The goal of the three farm laws was to empower farmers, especially small farmers, he said. 

Modi also said that agriculture reforms and the welfare of farmers became his top priority after becoming PM in 2014. Modi said: "When I became PM in 2014, we (government) prioritised farmers' welfare & development... Many people are unware of this truth that 80/100 are small scale farmers who have less than 2 hectares of land and are over 10 crores in population. This piece of land is their survival."

The agriculture budget has risen by five times with over Rs1.25 lakh crore being spent annually, Modi said. 

In his speech, Modi stressed how government initiatives have led to an increase in agricultural production. 

Modi said, "When the country gave us the opportunity to serve as Pradhan Sevaks in 2014, we gave top priority to agricultural development and farmer welfare. Many people are unaware of the truth that 80 percent are small scale farmers who have less than 2 hectares of land and are over 10 crores in population. This piece of land is their survival."

"To overcome the challenges of the small farmers of the country, we worked all-round on seeds, insurance, markets and savings. Along with good quality seeds, the government also connected the farmers with facilities like neem coated urea, soil health card and micro-irrigation. Many steps were also taken for the farmers to get the right price for their produce in return for their hard work. The country strengthened its rural market infrastructure," he stated.

He said the government not only increased the MSP (Minimum Support Price) but also created record government procurement centres. "We worked to provide farmers with seeds at reasonable rates and facilities like micro-irrigation, 22 crore soil health cards. Such factors have contributed to increased agriculture production. We strengthened Fasal Bima Yojana, brought more farmers under it," Modi said.

Modi said procurement by the central government broke the record of the past several decades.

Farmers have been protesting the government's three farm laws since had passed the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

The three farm laws are-- The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act provides for setting up a mechanism allowing the farmers to sell their farm produces outside the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs). Any licence-holder trader can buy the produce from the farmers at mutually agreed prices. This trade of farm produces will be free of mandi tax imposed by the state governments.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act allows farmers to do contract farming and market their produces freely. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act is an amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act.