Centre takes back 3 farm laws, Modi announces in address to the nation

Rahul, Mamata, Kejriwal hail farmers’ unity, say this is the victory of farmers

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19

In a major development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the government's decision to withdraw the three controversial farm laws saying the constitutional process to do so would be completed in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

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Greeting the nation in an address on Gurpurab, the Prime Minister expressed happiness at the reopening of the Kartarpur corridor saying, “Today I have come to tell you that we have decided to withdraw the three agricultural laws. In the Parliament session starting later this month, we will complete the constitutional process to repeal these laws.”

The decision comes ahead of the Assembly elections in five states next year and the recent dismal performance of the BJP in the bypolls.

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The PM said when he was given the opportunity to serve the country in 2014, the government accorded the highest priority to agriculture development and farmer welfare.

The PM said the government could not convince some farmers of the value of the farm laws and, therefore, the decision to repeal them was taken.

“We not only increased the MSP, but also created a record number of government procurement centres. The procurement of the produce made by our government has broken records of the past several decades. The objective of the farm laws was that the farmers of the country, especially small farmers, should be strengthened, they should get the right price for their produce and maximum options to sell the produce,” the PM said seeking to justify the government move to reform the laws, a step that led to massive farmer protests with Delhi borders becoming the centre of the agitation.

The PM said, “These laws were brought for the welfare of farmers, in the interest of the agriculture sector, for a bright future of the poor villagers, with full integrity, clear conscience and dedication towards farmers.”

The PM said, “Such a sacred thing, a matter of farmers' interest, we could not explain to some farmers despite our efforts.”

He added that ageicultural economists, scientists and progressive farmers also tried their best to make the farmers understand the importance of agricultural laws but failed.

The PM announced the formation of a committee to promote zero budgeting-based agriculture, to change crop pattern as per the changing needs of the country and to make MSP more effective and transparent.

“The committee will have representatives of the central government, state governments, farmers, agricultural scientists and agricultural economists,” he said.

He said he had seen the challenges of the farmers closely in his five decades in public life. “That is why when I was given the opportunity to serve the country in 2014, we gave the highest priority to agriculture development and  farmer welfare.”

The Prime Minister said four-prong measures of seeds, insurance, market and savings were taken to ameliorate the conditions of farmers.

“Along with good quality seeds, the government also connected the farmers with facilities like neem-coated urea, soil health card and micro irrigation. Many initiatives have been taken for the farmers to get the right price for their produce in return for their hard work. The country has strengthened its rural market infrastructure,” said the PM.

The Prime Minister said that for years, farmers, agricultural experts and farmer organisations had been making this demand.

“Earlier also, many governments had brainstormed on this. This time also, there was a discussion in Parliament, brainstorming took place and these laws were brought in. In every nook and corner of the country, many farmer organisations welcomed and supported them. I express my gratitude to the organisations, farmers and individuals who supported the move,” said the PM.

The PM said, “Today is not the day for blaming anyone and is in fact a day to rededicate oneself to working for the welfare of farmers.”

The move comes ahead of the elections in seven states next year and a growing sense among government leaders that the farmers’ agitation is harming the party prospects.

The withdrawal is reminiscent of a similar pullback of the government from the land acquisition law.

The opposition was quick to react to the PM’s announcement with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi congratulating the farmers.

“Farmers have forced an arrogant government to bow to their demands. Congratulations for this victory over injustice,” Gandhi said posting an old message where he had said, “Mark my words, the government will have to rescind farm laws.”

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TMC chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “My heartfelt congratulations to every single farmer who fought relentlessly and were not fazed by the cruelty with which BJP treated you. This is YOUR VICTORY!  My deepest condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones in this fight.”

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal termed the news on Gurpurab “hearty”. “Nearly 700 farmers lost their lives. My salutation to the farmers who sacrificed their lives to protect the interests of the community,” Kejriwal said.

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