The government has decided to repeal three farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday, marking a climbdown by his government to meet the unrelenting demand of farmers protesting in several states against the reform measures for over a year.
Making the announcement during a televised address to the nation on the occasion of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary, Modi appealed to protesting farmers to call off their agitation against these reform measures and return home as he called for a new beginning.
The constitutional formalities to revoke the laws will be done in Parliament’s winter session beginning from November 29, the Prime Minister said on Friday, nearly a week before the first anniversary of the start of the stir at several Delhi border points including Singhu.
The ruling BJP hopes that the government’s decision will placate Sikhs, who are in a majority in the border state of Punjab, and Jats, a major demographic constituency in the western region of UP, and will cancel out political headwinds it has encountered in the two poll-bound states besides Haryana.
The protests have been most intense in these regions of north India. This will also ease the path for an alliance between the BJP and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who lauded the announcement as “great news” and thanked Modi for acceding to the demand of “every Punjabi”.
The Prime Minister spoke at length about the benefits these laws were expected to bring to farmers, especially those with small landholdings, and his government’s good faith in enacting these legislations.
The government brought them with full integrity and clear conscience in the interest of farmers and country, he added. He then apologised to people of the country, saying he wanted to convey to them with a “sacred heart” that there may have been some shortcomings in the government’s efforts that it could not convince some farmers about the truth which was “as clear as the light of a candle”.
The Supreme Court has put the laws in abeyance. The Prime Minister’s decision to revoke the laws protests marks the second time his government has taken a decision of such magnitude in the face of popular protests since coming to power in 2014.
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