Indian farmers score victory as Modi retreats on pro-corporate farm laws
Indian farmers celebrate their victory against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-corporate farm marketizing laws. More than 700 farmers lost their lives in the 14-month struggle. | AIKS via CPI-M

Indian farmers scored a spectacular victory Friday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi repealed three marketizing farm laws after 14 months of mass struggle.

The laws, passed late last year, deregulated the sale of food across state borders, legalized private stockpiling and speculation in foodstuffs, and removed price controls, effectively marketizing the sector and threatening food security for hundreds of millions of Indians.

Modi made the repeal announcement on national television on the day of the Guru Purab festival, when Sikhs celebrate the birthday of the religion’s founder, Guru Nanak. Sikhs from Punjab made up many of the farmers whose roadblocks and rallies have besieged New Delhi for almost a year.

Indian farmers use their tractors to take over the streets against Modi’s laws. | AIKS via CPI-M

He appealed to the demonstrators to return to their homes, saying the formal repeal of the laws would go through parliament in December. He said he was “apologizing to the nation”—but for failing to convince farmers of the benefits of the laws, rather than for pushing them through in the first place.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha—an umbrella group of mass farmers’ organizations which coordinated the protests—said it would remain mobilized and continue to surround the capital until the laws had actually been repealed.

“Nearly 700 farmers have been martyred in this struggle,” it noted, pointing out that farmers had perished from cold and been assaulted by police over the course of their long ordeal. “The central government’s obstinacy is responsible for these avoidable deaths, including the murders at Lakhimpur Kheri” (where a car carrying employees of the far-right ruling BJP mowed down four farmers, and the crowd set upon the driver and passengers, killing three; a journalist was also killed).

The group added that the government had not addressed another key demand—a guaranteed minimum support price for crops above the cost of production.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Brinda Karat saluted a “historic victory against a regime that believed its brute majority in parliament could be wielded against the people of this country.

“The farmers have taught the Modi government a lesson it should not forget. Dictatorship in India does not work.”

The BJP rammed the three laws through parliament in September 2020, and opposition parties said they were prevented from debating them and many had their microphones cut off during a controversial “voice vote.”

The Modi government faces upcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, which has been cited as one reason it decided to retreat in the face of the ongoing resistance.

Morning Star


Ben Chacko
Ben Chacko

Ben Chacko is Editor of Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.