Prime Minister Narendra Modi flip-flops on agricultural reform

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Faced with the fury of the peasant world, India’s government is set to revoke three agricultural reform laws that have led to massive demonstrations in the country for months. The weight of the agricultural sector is quite large in India and accounts for about 15% of GDP.

This is the shocking face of Narendra Modi. India will repeal three agricultural reform laws after a year of massive protests by angry farmers, the Prime Minister announced on Friday (19 November).

“We have decided to repeal the three agricultural laws. We will start the constitutional process to repeal these three laws during the parliamentary session starting at the end of this month,” Narendra Modi said in his address to the nation.

“I call on all farmers participating in the protests to return home, to their loved ones, farms and families, on this auspicious day of Guru Purab,” continued Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Prime Minister. Many farmers protested against this minority religion.

“Let’s make a fresh start and move forward,” he added.

The burden of the agricultural sector is considerable in India, ensuring the livelihood of nearly 70% of its 1.3 billion population, and accounting for about 15% of GDP.

“What I do, I do for farmers. What I do, I do for the country,” said the 71-year-old head of government. “I want to assure you today that you work harder so that your dreams can come true, the dreams of the country can come true,” he promised.

Mass demonstration

Amarinder Singh, a former chief minister of the opposition Punjab State Congress party, where many of the protesters hail from, immediately welcomed Modi’s announcement as “good news”.

“Thanks to PM @narendramodi ji for agreeing to the demands of all Punjabis and repealing 3 black laws on the occasion of #GuruNanakJayanti”, Amarinder Singh reacted on Twitter.

“I am sure that the central government will continue to synergize for the development of Kisani (agriculture),” he added.

>> Check out our Focus, India: angry farmers continue their mobilization against sector liberalization

Agricultural reforms were passed in September 2020 to allow farmers to sell their produce to buyers of their choice, instead of turning exclusively to state-controlled markets to ensure they get minimum support prices (MSPs) for certain commodities. .

Many small farmers have opposed it since November 2020 in mass demonstrations, feeling threatened by liberalization which they say risks forcing them to sell their goods to big companies to sell them.

Since then, farmers have camped in the streets of New Delhi’s gates, where a solidarity network has been formed. Every day, the tractor delivered wooden carts and food to them.

This agricultural movement is one of the biggest challenges facing the country since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Protests turned violent in January during a rally of farmers who came on their tractors to New Delhi on a national holiday celebrating the Republic of India.

The protests later turned into clashes with police in which a farmer lost his life and hundreds of police officers were injured.

Last month in Uttar Pradesh state, eight people were killed, including four farmers, in clashes during a visit by Interior Minister Ajay Mishra.

In recent months, while the ground for peasant protests has become sparse, a contingent of activists has remained in place and large demonstrations are expected this month to mark the first anniversary of their standoff with the government.

With AFP

Cheryl Tenny

"Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker."

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