Is it Modi's political master-stroke or…?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Highlights

In a major move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the repealing of the three Central farm laws. In his address to the nation, he said, "today I want to tell everyone that we have decided to repeal all three farm laws

In a major move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the repealing of the three Central farm laws. In his address to the nation, he said, "today I want to tell everyone that we have decided to repeal all three farm laws." Farmers have been protesting the farm laws since 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 produce 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 produce 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 produce freely. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act is an amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act. Will this see the end of the year-long agitation?

Since it is a strategic move keeping in view the UP and Punjab elections, the government as announced by Modi would now restore status quo and repeal the laws in Parliament which would begin from November 29. But the question is will the BJP come with a law on MSP as demanded by the farmers? In all probability it may not.

This move will certainly help the BJP to recover some of the lost ground following the year-long agitation of the farmers. Though the agitation has caused some dent in the image of the BJP, all surveys indicate that they are likely to come back to power with reduced majority. The repeal of the farm laws can certainly control this possible damage to some extent.

It was watchful of the impact of the farm laws and carefully planned the timing of the announcement ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand and UP. If there was delay in acceding to the demand of the farmers, it is also a calculated one.

The BJP understands the farmers had been impacting the elections in a negative way but were not consolidating behind any particular regional or national party. That was BJP's comfort. It now plans to encash the present development in its favour. Again, the decision has come just ahead of the winter session of the parliament. It will defuse the heat to a great extent during the debate on the issue.

The Opposition is robbed of the opportunity to present itself as the saviour of farmers. It could always belittle the government, but the sharpness of the attack will be blunted to a great extent. Politics or antics (as some tried to put it), it is the farmers and they alone who should take the credit for the major step down by the government.

The unexpected declaration will undoubtedly change the political landscape in the state, where an assembly election is scheduled for early next year.

This repeal also impacts Punjab significantly. This paves the way for an alliance between the BJP and Captain Amarinder's Punjab Lok Congress. Unhappy Congress leaders could always jump into this wagon. In six months, we will come to know whether this is a BJP masterstroke. Also watch-out Tikait's role in UP.

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