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PM Modi announces repeal of farm laws; Tikait will protest till Parliament’s nod

New Delhi, Nov 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the repeal of the three contentious farm laws, the enactment of which in August 2020 triggered the ongoing farm protest and the walkout of BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal from the Union Government.

The announcement was made by the PM in a televised address to the nation coinciding with the Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations.  The decision came as a surprise as the BJP government is known to stick to its policy stands and has no earlier precedence of going back on its decisions.

The government and the farmers had engaged in several rounds of talks to resolve the contentious issues but the deliberations had remained inconclusive. The sticking points centered around the MSP with the farm leaders seeking assurance from the government on the issue. The other apprehension was the abolition of the mandis following the enactment of the legislations.

“I apologize to India and with true and pure heart that may be… we were not able to convince farmers [over the farm laws]. I’m here to declare that we have decided to repeal the three farm laws…We will complete all the formalities during the Parliament session that begins this month,” PM Modi said in his address.

During the Monsoon session of Parliament in 2020, the government had enacted the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

The enactments triggered protests from farmers, mostly from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. The Bharatiya Kisan Union led agitation took shape on the outskirts of the national capital at the Singhu border, which in the course of the agitation became the nerve centre of the agitation.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said the agitation will not be withdrawn till the laws are repealed in Parliament. In a tweet following the announcement by the PM, he reiterated their demand for assurance from the government about MSP and other issues.

The decision comes ahead of the elections to Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and amid a general view in political circles that BJP might fare badly in these states. According to some media reports, a large section of the farmers belonging to the Jat community in the sugarcane rich belt of western UP had expressed their resentment against the laws. In Punjab, the various poll projections had given BJP zero seats in the upcoming polls.