New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that the government has decided to repeal the three farm laws, which were at the centre of protests by farmers for the past year, and appealed to the protesting farmers to return home.
Addressing the nation on the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Modi insisted that the laws were in the benefit of farmers and then apologised to people of the country while adding that the government could not convince a section of farmers despite its clear heart and clean conscience.
"There may have been some shortcoming in our efforts due to which we could not explain the truth, as clear as the light of the diya, to some of our farmer brothers," he said.
Noting that it is the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, he said it was no occasion to blame anyone.
"I have come to tell you that we have decided to repeal the three farm laws. In the upcoming Parliament session starting at the end of this month, we will complete the constitutional process to repeal the three farm laws," Modi said.
"I would request all my protesting farmer friends, today is the auspicious day of Guru Purab, return home, to your fields and family and make a new beginning, let us move forward afresh," he said.
The goal of the three farm laws was to empower farmers, especially small farmers, the prime minister said.
He listed various steps taken by his government for the welfare of small farmers and pointed out that the agriculture budget has risen by five times with over Rs 1.25 lakh crore being spent annually.
Modi said that he had seen the challenges faced by farmers very closely in his five decades of public life and therefore when the country gave the opportunity to serve as 'Pradhan Sevak' in 2014, he gave top priority to agriculture development and farmers welfare.
The Centre, which has held 11 rounds of formal dialogue with the farmers, had maintained that the new laws are pro-farmer, while protesters claim they would be left at the mercy of corporations because of the legislations.
The ruling BJP will hope that the decision to repeal the three laws will cancel out the political headwinds it has encounters in Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh, two states which are going to the polls early next year.
The decision will also help former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh in sealing his expected alliance with the BJP for the polls.
Many farmers had been protesting and were encamped at Delhi's borders since November 2020 with a demand that the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 be rolled back and a new law made to guarantee MSP for crops.
Farmers welcome govt's decision, but say won't end protest now
Following the dramatic announcement, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Friday said the ongoing anti-farm laws protest will be withdrawn only after the contentious legislations are repealed in Parliament. He also stressed that the government should talk to farmers over the issue of minimum support price (MSP) of crops and other matters.
The BKU national spokesperson said this on Twitter soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced repealing the three farm laws, which were at the centre of the farmers' protest since November 26 last year.
"The protest will not be withdrawn immediately, we will wait for the day when the farm laws are repealed in Parliament. Along with MSP, the government should talk to farmers on other issues too," Tikait tweeted in Hindi.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiyan Kisan Union's (BKU) Ugrahan faction on Friday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement to repeal the three contentious farm laws. "It is a good move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Gurupurab," Joginder Singh Ugrahan, the leader of BKU's Ugrahan faction, told PTI.
BKU (Ugrahan) is the largest among the all protesting farmers unions and are protesting at the Tikri border. Ugrahan faction of the BKU has sizeable presence across Punjab.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 farm unions, on Friday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement to repeal the three farm laws.
It also said that the SKM will take note of all developments and will hold its meeting soon and announce further decisions if any.
"Samyukt Kisan Morcha welcomes this decision and will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures," the SKM said in a statement.
"The agitation of farmers is not just against the repeal of the three black laws, but also for a statutory guarantee to remunerative prices for all agricultural produce and for all farmers. This important demand of farmers is still pending," it said.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court-appointed farm panel member Anil Ghanwat on Friday described as regressive the Central government's decision to repeal the three farm laws which were at the centre of protests by farmers for the past year.
This is the most regressive step by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he chose politics over farmers' betterment, Ghanwat told PTI.
"Our panel had submitted several corrections and solutions over the three farm laws, but instead of using it to solve the impasse, Modi and BJP chose to backtrack. They just want to win elections and nothing else," he said.
Oppn take jibe at PM
Leaders of various political parties across the country have welcomed the government's decision, while opposition parties slammed the prime minister for delaying the inevitable.
The country's 'annadatas' have made "arrogance bow its head" through 'satyagraha', Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Friday and described the Centre's decision to repeal the farm laws as a "victory against injustice".
"Congratulations on this victory against injustice!" the former Congress chief said. "'Jai Hind, Jai Hind ka Kisan'," he added.
Calling the Centre's decision to repeal the farm laws as a "great victory for the farmers and the Congress", senior party leader P Chidambaram took a dig at the government, saying that the move was not inspired by a change of heart but impelled by "fear of elections".
"What cannot be achieved by democratic protests can be achieved by the fear of impending elections!" Chidambaram tweeted.
The PM's announcement on the withdrawal of the three farm laws is not inspired by a change of policy or a change of heart. It is impelled by "fear of elections", the Congress leader charged in a series of tweets.
"Anyway, it is a great victory for the farmers and for the Congress party which was unwavering in its opposition to the farm laws," Chidambaram said.
The victory of farmers is the victory of the country, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government's decision. "Victory of the farmers, is of everyone, it is a victory of the country," Chaudhary said in a tweet in Hindi.
In a tweet, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) said this "victory is of farmers' struggle, perseverance and sacrifice". The party also congratulated the farmers.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel congratulated farmers for "pressuring" the Centre to withdraw the three contentious farm laws, and described the government's announcement as a victory not only of farmers, but also of democracy over injustice.
"The Gandhian movement has once again shown its strength. Congratulations to the farmers of the country for pressuring the Central government to withdraw the three black laws. This is the victory of not only farmers, but also of democracy against injustice," Baghel tweeted in Hindi.
Hailing the Centre's announcement to repeal farm laws as a victory of farmers, SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal on Friday said no government should enact such "insensitive and cruel laws" again.
"A defining moment in history and a historic victory of farmers on Gurupurab," Badal said in a statement.
Talking about the laws, Badal said, "It was for the first time in the history of democratic governments that brazen and cruel laws were made without even taking the stakeholders on board.'
"No govt should ever do such an insensitive and cruel thing again," he asserted.
Describing "700 farmers who died during the protest as martyrs", Badal said, "The loss of these these brave soldiers and the disgraceful and entirely avoidable events like the one at Lakhimpur will always remain a dark blot on the face of this government."
"The power of people is always greater than the people in power," Telangana Minister and TRS Working President KT Rama Rao said reacting to the prime minister's statement on repealing the three farm laws.
"The power of people is always greater than the people in power. Proved once again by the Indian farmers who got what they demanded by their relentless agitation Jai Kisan Jai Jawan," KTR tweeted.
Chief Minister K Chandrashelhar Rao on Thursday holding protests asserted that TRS would fight till the end over the NDA government's "anti-people policies and anti-farm laws."
"Great news! Thankful to PM @narendramodi ji for acceding to the demands of every punjabi & repealing the 3 black laws on the pious occasion of #GuruNanakJayanti. I am sure the central govt will continue to work in tandem for the development of Kisani! #NoFarmers_NoFood @AmitShah," Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said in a tweet.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday welcomed the government's announcement to repeal the contentious farm laws, saying the "sacrifice" of farmers who died protesting against them will remain immortal.
"Such a happy news has been received on Prakash Diwas. The three laws scrapped. More than 700 farmers martyred. Their sacrifice will remain immortal. The coming generations will remember how the farmers of the country saved farming and the farmers by risking their own lives. My tribute to farmers of my country," Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said the decision to repeal the three farm laws should be seen as a gift from the prime minister to protesting farmer. He also appealed to the protesting farmers to return to their homes.
Welcoming the move, Chautala, who is the leader of the JJP, a BJP ally, told PTI, "Repeal of farm laws should be seen as a gift from Prime Minister Modi to protesting farmers on Gurupurab."
"I appeal to all protesting farmers to return to their homes and celebrate Gurupurab with their families," he said.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma welcomed the repeal of the three farm laws and hoped the government draws lessons to not bypass Parliament and meaningfully engages with the opposition before enacting laws with far-reaching consequences.
"Truth and justice has prevailed and the farmers' protests vindicated. Had the government not bypassed Parliament scrutiny and excluded stakeholders from consultations, the pain and suffering of the farmers and the loss of lives could have been avoided," he said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the repeal of the agri laws.
"Hope that lessons are learnt and the government gets the realisation that no law should be enacted in a hurry without the consultation with all stakeholders," Sharma said.
The deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha said the practice of the government to bypass Parliamentary scrutiny by not referring the bills to standing committees and joint select committees has created complications and conflicts like that on the farm laws and the Citizen's (Amendment) Act (CAA).
"The government should meaningfully engage with the opposition on proposals to enact any law that has far-reaching consequences," the former union minister said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on Centre deciding to repeal the three contentious farm laws, calling it a victory of the farmers' protest.
In a democracy, people's will has to be respected, he said in a tweet, responding to Modi's announcement made through a televised address to the nation.
"I wholeheartedly welcome Hon'ble @PMOIndia 's decision to repeal the three anti-farmer laws. History teaches us that people's wishes shall prevail in a democracy. I congratulate all the farmers & bow down to their determination for having achieved this through Gandhian means," Stalin said in a tweet.
The PMK also welcomed Modi's announcement.
Party founder Dr S Ramadoss took to Twitter and said the "decision taken in the interest of the farmers is welcome."
This was a victory for the farmers, who had braved many difficulties including harsh cold, he said, adding the nation will develop only if the farmers did.
MDMK founder Vaiko said the Centre had "kneeled" due to the farmer's year-long protest and dubbed the the PM's announcement as a "massive victory" for them.
Sena, NCP say Centre finally bowed down to farmers' pressure
Welcoming the Centre's decision of repealing the three contentious farm laws, the Shiv Sena and the NCP, which share power in Maharashtra, on Friday said the government had to finally bow down before the agitating farmers.
Reacting to the development, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, "For the first time the 'mann ki baat' of people has come out PM Modi's mouth. BJP leaders were openly calling these farmers Khalistanis and Pakistanis, but the Union government had to bend before the farmers' pressure."
"More than 400 farmers lost their lives during the protests on the borders of Delhi. Had Modi listened to our demands, many lives would have been saved. But the government was adamant and refused to listen to the farmers' issues," the Sena MP added.
Nawab Malik, chief spokesperson of the NCP said in a tweet, "Jhukati hai duniya, jhukane wala chahiye. We salute all the farmers, many of them gave their life. The three farm laws have been withdrawn."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday congratulated farmers for their relentless fight against three farm laws and said they were not fazed by the "cruelty" of the BJP.
"My heartfelt congratulations to every single farmer who fought relentlessly and were not fazed by the cruelty with which @BJP4India treated you. This is YOUR VICTORY! My deepest condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones in this fight. #FarmLaws," Banerjee tweeted.
Govt has to bring bill
The government will have to move a bill in Parliament to repeal the three agri laws, which were at the centre of protests by farmers for the past year, Constitution and legal experts said on Friday.
"For repeal, the power of Parliament is the same as enacting a law under the Constitution," explained former Union Law Secretary P K Malhotra. The government will have to bring a bill to repeal the three laws.
"There is no other way," said former Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Acharya. Responding to a query, Acharya said the government can repeal the three laws through a single repealing bill.
In the statement of objects and reason of the bill, the government can mention the reasons why it intends to repeal the three laws, he said.
"When a repeal bill is passed, it is also a law," observed Malhotra.
PM pays tributes to Guru Nanak, Rani Lakshmibai & Indira Gandhi
Earlier in the day, the prime minister paid tributes to Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev on his birth anniversary, saying his vision of a just, compassionate and inclusive society inspires people.
Modi also paid tributes to Rani Lakshmibai, the Jhansi queen who had died fighting the British forces, saying she has a special place in the history of India and her bravery will not be forgotten by generations.
The prime minister is travelling to Jhansi on Friday to launch development projects and also to hand over indigenous defence equipment to the three military chiefs.
Offering homage to the first Sikh guru, he tweeted, "On the special occasion of the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, I recall his pious thoughts and noble ideals. His vision of a just, compassionate and inclusive society inspires us. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's emphasis on serving others is also very motivating."
The prime minister also paid tributes to former prime minister Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary.
Gandhi was the prime minister between 1966 and 1977 and later between 1980 and 1984. She was born on this day in 1917. "I pay my tributes to former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi Ji on her birth anniversary," Modi tweeted.
(With PTI inputs)