Why India's Ruling Party Just Scrapped the Laws that Caused the Biggest Protest in Human History

Why India's Ruling Party Just Scrapped the Laws that Caused the Biggest Protest in Human History
New Delhi, India
On the morning of September 17, 2020, the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the bicameral Parliament of India, followed by the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) on September 20, passed 3 contentious Farm Acts – amidst protests from opposition parties – titled as “Farm Laws, 2020”. The laws were formatted in a way that made farmers fear an abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on selective crops, leaving them under the heel of big corporations.

New Delhi, India

On the morning of September 17, 2020, the Lower House (Lok Sabha) of the bicameral Parliament of India, followed by the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) on September 20, passed 3 contentious Farm Acts – amidst protests from opposition parties – titled as “Farm Laws, 2020”. The laws were formatted in a way that made farmers fear an abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on selective crops, leaving them under the heel of big corporations.


The laws were later assented by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27, 2020, and thus, stimulated one of the biggest protests in human history, with an upward participation of 250 million people across the subcontinent.


Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India's population, and being the country with the most vegetarians in the world, one would think that farming and producing greens here would be a financially and socially beneficial profession. However, under the 6th running year of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), farmers, the very heart and soul of India, were put in grave danger.


The Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party), is one of two major political parties in India. It has been the ruling central political party in India since 2014. BJP is a right-wing party, and as of 2020, it is the country's largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state legislatures. It has been involved in controversial campaigns pre Farmers Laws Protest as well.


Protests began on November 25, 2020, succeeding a nationwide road blockade on November 3, when thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, marched towards the national capital demanding for the absolute repeal of the Farm Laws, in lieu of the “Dilli Chalo” (“Let’s Go To Delhi”) Campaign. For almost a year, these farmers — who had left their fields and family to come to fight for their livelihood — faced water cannons, tear gas, brutal police violence, and harsh weather conditions. This included the episode of January 26, 2021 (India’s 72nd Republic Day) where thousands of protestors clashed with the police during a tractor parade organized by farmer unions at the Red Fort in New Delhi, resulting in the death of one protester, according to official data released by BBC News.


Nonetheless, the farmers stood their ground, and finally, on November 19,  2021, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, addressed the nation virtually, announcing the government’s repeal of the Farm Laws 2020, since they were unable to persuade the farmers in favor of them. While a nationwide celebration for farmers broke out, it'll be highly naive of us to ignore their convenient and somewhat strategic timing.


The day of the PM’s announcement was November 19, (Friday), which coincidentally happened to be Gurupurab - a religious festival followed by the Sikhs globally. It should be noted that most of the farmers (and protesters) were followers of Sikhism.


One could argue that the government had no ulterior motives, they only wanted to give good news to the protesting farmers on a day auspicious to them. However, what one absolutely cannot overlook, is the fact that barely three months down the line, Assembly Elections were slated to be held in Punjab, the hub of agriculture in India, and ruled over by the opposition Congress Party. Also, Uttar Pradesh, India’s top farming state, is slated to have its Assembly Elections in seven phases starting from February 10, 2022.  On November 19th itself, a court-appointed Farm Panel member, Anil Ghanwat, described Modi’s repeal announcement as “his most regressive step”. He also stated that his panel had submitted several corrections and solutions for the three farm laws. However, instead of using them to solve the impasse, BJP chose to backtrack. “They just want to win elections and nothing else,” he claimed.


The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on November 29, 2021, and later received the assent of the President of India on November 30. While it is a huge relief that the backline of India is safe at the moment, only time can tell how long it’ll last.


Editors: Rachel C., Stephanie C., Blenda Y., Amshu V.

This article was originally written February 2022

Image Credits: Hindustan Times