Modi’s turnaround on farm laws

Agitating farmers had the last laugh; or they have considerable relief, at least. A year of sustained agitation has paid off in meeting their principal demand – the repeal of the three farm laws brought into force by the Modi government last year. It is clear Prime Minister Modi bent to the will of farmers in the context of the approaching assembly polls in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The farmer agitation was limited to UP, Punjab and Haryana while the farmers in most states kept quiet. In other words, the farmers in general were willing to give a try to the farm reforms. Yet, the well-heeled farmers in the three states, in the forefront of the agitation, did not want to disturb the present system that fetched them good returns.
The reverse is true of the small and medium farmers. They had nothing to lose and their plight remained worse all along. Reason why they were in a mood to try out the new system is because corporates would directly step into farms and purchase the products without middlemen. Middlemen were the curse of the farm sector and they appropriated the bulk of the benefits from the farms at the cost of the farmers. Yet, the ordinary farmers now lost out in the tug of war between the big farmers and the Modi establishment. They have been orphaned by the PM. Question is, with what face can Modi carry on now. His apology meant too little. Many farmers died during the agitation, some due to Covid19 too. To that extent, there’s blood on the PM’s hands. Yet, he stood the ground for a year – a period when the agitation was reaching nowhere. What changed the tide in their favour now was the upcoming assembly polls. Perceptions thus strengthened that the PM went back on a major reform step if only to retrieve the lost ground for his BJP in UP and Punjab. This could be stretched to mean Modi sacrificed national interests for narrow political gains.
The farmers are now asking for more – and threatening to continue the fight. Worse, Modi’s about-turn will also mean the ghosts of CAA and Article 370 will now be exorcised. The Opposition itself will be more emboldened to fight Modi. Regional sharks and dynasts are sharpening their knives to “kill” Modi politically and grab power in Delhi. Modi now gives them all a new energy. True, all present-day politicians would go to any lengths to promote their personal interests. If anything, Modi proved he is not made of a different stuff.

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