Opinion | Politics, not plight of farmers, forced Modi's rethink on farm laws

Farmers' protest
BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait and farmers raise slogans during their protest against three farm reform laws, at Ghazipur border in New Delhi, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Farmers are scheduled to protest march towards Parliament against three farm laws on Thursday. Photo: PTI

The Centre has repealed three controversial farm laws after more than a year of protests by agitated farmers, but the move is more political in nature.

The farmers had opposed the laws saying the legislation left them at the mercy of corporates, while the Centre claimed the intent was to unshackle farm markets and boost agrarian incomes.

That the stand-off continued even after a year itself is proof enough that the Union government wanted to pursue the laws with zeal, regardless of the fierce and unprecedented opposition it faced even in BJP-ruled states.

But the tide began to turn after the government realised that the protests were not withering away after even a year.


Then realisation dawned in the Sangh Parivar circles about a possible backlash in the cow belt states, which constitute the core vote base of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Assembly polls will be held in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, next year.

The Modi dispensation needs to shore up its perceived voter dissatisfaction in Uttar Pradesh to further its cause in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Sulking from the massive setback in West Bengal, the Sangh did not want to get a losers tag in UP, India's most populous state which sends 80 lawmakers to the Lower House of Parliament.

Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the nation, in New Delhi, Friday, Nov 19, 2021. PTI

UP now accounts for nearly one in four of the BJP's 301 lawmakers.

Even 'friendly' opinion polls indicate the Yogi Government's dwindling fortunes.

Though polls point to the BJP holding on to power in UP, the margin and the number of legislators are declining sharply.

This has unnerved the BJP, as it indicates disgruntlement with a ruling dispensation despite a lacklustre Opposition.

So reigniting hyper-nationalism, claiming clean governance and touting development by embarking on an inauguration spree – most recently of the Purvanchal Express Highway -- are all old tricks the Modi government has at its disposal and it will use them to the hilt.

Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnesses the Air Show at the inauguration of the Purvanchal Expressway, in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. PTI

So it was only natural for a publicity-hungry PM to land on the expressway in an IAF plane. The subtle message of the PM landing in an aircraft for the inaugural of the expressway is that the BJP will move heaven and earth to harp on India's military capabilities in the run-up to the polls.

In Punjab, after the exit of Amarinder from Congress, BJP sensed a chance to recapture its lost political space in the aftermath of the widespread protests following the farm laws.

Amarinder's condition for a pact with the BJP in the assembly polls itself – that the farm laws be reconsidered – smacks of an orchestrated political game plan.

Now the poll plank will be Centre accepts Amarinder's demand, paving the way for the controversial farm laws to be repealed.

Opinion | Politics, not plight of farmers, forced Modi's rethink on farm laws
Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh

While it may not fetch a desired political outcome in the form of returning to power, it can have the potential to thwart the return to office of a Congress government in the state.

With AAP also expected to reap gains of the Congress mis-governance, this is the best bet for the BJP.

So make no mistake, the late realisation of the Centre about the difficulties caused to the farmers is more of a reflection of its realistic understanding about its political prospects than a genuine concern for the plight of farmers.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.