The government's decision to repeal three central farm laws is "very unfortunate" as this "political move" will not end the farmers' agitation and will not help the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, a key member of the Supreme Court-appointed panel on the contentious agri-laws said on Friday, November 19. Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil J Ghanwat said the agitators had planned the protest till the upcoming Assembly elections. The Union government did not succumb when the protest was at its peak and now it has gone down to their knees.
The government should have adopted other policies to address the issue rather than repealing them. In fact, the laws could have survived had the government discussed them properly during the passage in Parliament and even agreed to refer to a parliamentary panel, he told PTI. In a major move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Friday morning announced repealing of the three central farm laws.
It's been over a year now that farmers are protesting at Delhi border against the three central farm laws, Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
Expressing unhappiness over the government's decision, Ghanwat said this decision "won't end the agitation too. Because their demand to make minimum support price (MSP) legal will be there. And this decision won't help the BJP politically either." He said, "this is a very unfortunate decision. Farmers were given some freedom, but now they will be exploited as they have been exploited since Independence or since British rule."
Under the new farm laws, farmers were for the first time given some sort of "independence in marketing", but now they have to face restrictions like export ban and stock limits that were used to exploit the farmers to keep the farm produce rate low, he said. Ghanwat said the government should have used some other policies to manage the agitation. "But now it has succumbed to the pressure of the agitators. We don't hope anything good will happen now."
Stating that it was a political decision, the panel member said, "they (the Union government) did not succumb when the agitation was at its peak. But now they have gone down to their knees because they want to win elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. To get their party elected once again in UP, they have decided to step back. This is not good."
Actually, agitators had designed the agitation to prolong till the upcoming Assembly elections, he said. On the status quo of some provisions of the new laws that are already being implemented, Ghanwat said the first two laws are being implemented in most of the states. "For example, selling agri produce outside the APMC. This law is being implemented in 21 states now. Agriculture is a state subject and it is up to states to continue with the provision or not." he added.
According to Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), "The government has decided to repeal the laws and it is its wish. The panel has submitted its report to the Supreme Court. The SC may have advised the government or whatever to repeal. It is good for farmers. They can sit back and relax now."
The upcoming polls were one of major considerations for repealing the farm laws, he said. Besides Ghanwat and Gulati, agricultural economist Pramod Joshi is the third member of the SC-appointed committee that was formed after the apex court stayed the implementation of the three farm laws. The committee submitted its report to the apex court on March 19, after studying the laws and consultation with the stakeholders. The report has not yet been made public.