Image: PTI/Representative Image
In a massive announcement on Friday, PM Modi announced that the Centre will officially repeal the three farm laws in the upcoming Winter session of Parliament. He made this declaration amid year-long protests by farmers at the Delhi borders. Addressing the nation on the occasion of Gurpurab, he appealed to the protesting farmers to return back to their homes. Lamenting that the Centre could not convince farmers, he also declared that a committee comprising the representatives of the Union and state governments, farmers, scientists and economists will be formed to make the MSP more efficient.
PM Modi remarked, "The aim of three farm laws was to empower the farmers, especially the small farmers. They should get the appropriate price for their produce and more avenues to sell their produce. This was the demand of farmers, agricultural experts and agricultural economists since a long time. Even earlier, previous governments examined this issue. This time too, there was discussion in the Parliament and these laws were brought in. Crores of farmers across the country and many farm organizations welcomed and supported this. Today, I want to thank all of them."
Explaining the sequence of events leading to this move, he added, "Despite our best efforts, we could not convince some farmers. Even though only a section of farmers was opposing it, this was important for us nevertheless. The agricultural economists and progressive farmers tried a lot to explain the benefits of the farm laws. We tried convincing them with an open mind through various mediums- personal as well as collective. The talks were continuously going on. We didn't leave any stone unturned in listening to the arguments of farmers. The government was ready to amend the provisions of the laws which they objected to. We also proposed to suspend these laws for two years".
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 aims at freeing the farmers from the constraints of the state Agriculture Produce Market Committees whereby they would be able to sell their produce anywhere. Meanwhile, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 protects and empowers farmers to engage with processors, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters for farm services. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 specifies that the supply of foodstuffs including cereals, pulses, potatoes, edible oilseeds, and oils shall be regulated only under exceptional circumstances.
The talks between the Union government and the farmers' unions over the three farm laws came to a standstill. While the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the farm laws, a committee appointed by the apex court submitted its report pertaining to the legislation in a sealed cover on March 19. 6 states- Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, West Bengal and Delhi have passed a resolution in their respective assemblies demanding the withdrawal of the farm laws.
On November 9, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha announced that 500 farmers will participate in a tractor march to the Parliament daily during the upcoming Winter session. The SKM is an umbrella body of several farm organizations protesting at the Delhi borders seeking the repeal of the three agrarian laws passed by Parliament. It stressed that this march will be peaceful with an aim to increase the "pressure" on the Centre to force it to accept the demands of farmers.
It added, "On November 26th, there will be huge mobilisations from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan at all the Delhi borders. Large meetings will be held there. SKM has called for massive joint statewide actions by farmers, workers, employees, agricultural labourers, women, youth and students on November 26th, in all state capitals of India, except the states mentioned above which will mobilise at the Delhi borders". The Centre's decision assumes significance ahead of the upcoming Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.