November 26, marked the one year of farmers’ historic struggle, with their numerous protests and rallies across the country that forced Prime Minister NarendraModi to strategically retreat and announce the repeal of his three controversial farm laws on November 19, which he seemed hell bent on implementing for over a year.
Farmers have historically been at the mercy of the ruling establishments, and if seen in this backdrop, Modi’s retreat can be interpreted as strengthening of the farmers as a group into an irresistible force, at least for the time being. Apart from the retreat of the ‘strongest’ political leader in the country at this time, the farmers have also made all anti-BJP parties support their cause in hope of gaining mileage over the ruling party at the Centre or in the states, particularly in the five states where assembly elections are around the corner, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
No one can fail to see the political change, particularly in the two states. In Punjab, NDA had broken at the beginning of the farmers protest last year, and ShiromaniAkali Dal (SAD) parted ways with BJP, fearing loss of its support base among the farmers. Other parties such as ruling Congress and the opposition AAP have also been talking in support of the farmers.
Despite the announcement of repeal and approval for it by the cabinet, the farmers’ agitation continued, and SKM is meeting on November 27 to decide its future course of action. It is most likely that their agitation will continue since several demands are still pending, including MSP as a legal right, change in the method of its calculation, withdrawal of cases against farmers and the Electricity Amendment bill, and compensation for those 700 who lost their lives in the course of the agitation. On November 28, a massive Kisan-MazdoorMahapanchayat is also scheduled in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, in which not only farmers but also workers and common citizens will participate.
Another important achievement of the agitation is the unity of farmers and workers who have jointly participated in the action programme against the anti-farmer and anti-worker laws and policies of the Modi government. It has all the potential to become a stronger movement which can drastically impact the country’s political contours, since the joint platform of 10 central trade unions are also agitating against the four controversial labour codes demanding scraping of the same.
Dr Gyan Pathak