Prime Minister Narendra Modi drastically threw back three contentious agriculture rules that had farmers clamouring for the past year in a televised address Friday morning. Modi has always portrayed himself as a “strong leader” who does not back down under duress, so the emphatic U-turn, which was accompanied by an oddly worded apology, makes the entire event all the more remarkable.
So, what caused Modi to budge? The reason for this is the farmers’ electoral clout and real chops, which they have demonstrated in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, two major states with upcoming elections. A big win in Uttar Pradesh is crucial for the BJP’s hopes of winning a record third term in Delhi in 2024. Home Minister Amit Shah admitted this openly, saying, “If you want Modi in 2024, bring Yogi back in 2021.”
But first, let’s take a look at Punjab, where the Akali Dal abandoned the Modi government in September, ending a decades-long coalition with the BJP, due to rising public outrage over farm policies that were rushed through parliament despite opposition demands for comprehensive debate. As a result, the PM’s party is running alone in Punjab, and while it has some support among urban Hindus, irate farmers have barred it from campaigning in major parts of the province. With the agricultural laws repealed, the BJP can reach a formal agreement with Captain Amarinder Singh, who left the Congress earlier this month after being forced to quit as Punjab Chief Minister by the party.
Amarinder Singh has announced a new political party…
So far, Amarinder Singh has announced a new political party (which has yet to be formed), but has simply stated that a collaboration with the BJP is not out of the question. A formal agreement was not possible due to farm laws. Amarinder Singh may now be politically correct while working with the BJP after pressing the delete button on them. And he was the first to express gratitude to Modi for the new initiative. He also pointedly acknowledged the Prime Minister’s apologies to farmers, giving him wiggle room to defend a BJP-led coalition if one is formed. The legislation had rendered the BJP nearly poisonous in Punjab, which was dominated by Jat Sikhs with the most at stake.
The Congress is still rowing against the waves of opposition poured forth every day by eternal rebel Navjot Singh Sidhu, the party’s state chief, after naming Channi Singh as Amarinder Singh’s replacement. Sidhu appears to believe he has a divine right to be Chief Minister, and he will continue to work against Channi and anybody else who stands in his way. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was expected to do well in Punjab, has yet to name a Chief Ministerial candidate, which is one of the reasons why its campaign has slowed. The Akali Dal was badly burned by its alliance with the BJP during the passage of the agriculture legislation. With these political coordinates, the BP might think that PM Modi’s move yesterday implies that the party would not face the utter washout predicted for the Punjab poll.
The ruling party’s main concern, though, is regaining control of Uttar Pradesh.
The ruling party’s main concern, though, is regaining control of Uttar Pradesh. Western UP includes the Jat-dominated belt, where the BJP scored two spectacular victories in 2014 (following the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, which saw a huge consolidation of the Hindu vote for the BJP) and last year’s general election, when the BJP outperformed even that result, receiving nearly 91 percent of the Jat vote, according to the Lok Niti CSDS poll. Farmers’ dissatisfaction with the new laws was expected to stoke Jat support for the BJP; Friday’s retreat is meant to appease them.
In a coalition with Jayant Singh and his Jat-dominated Rashtriya Lok Dal, Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party head, was depending on cashing in on Jat voter rage for gains (RLD). The farm rules have been used as a primary weapon in their campaign against the BJP. According to a BJP leader, the BJP was alarmed by the large audiences that Akhilesh Yadav was attracting at his rallies.
The killing of four farmers in Uttar Pradesh by the car of a federal minister, Ajay Mishra, in early October served as a new catalyst for farmer protests. Yogi Adityanath did his best to limit the damage, but Mishra’s continued appointment as a cabinet minister cast a pall over the BJP.
PM Narendra Modi will now spend the following 3 days in Uttar Pradesh, due to elections
Modi will now spend the following three days in Uttar Pradesh, and will return every week until the polls, which are now less than four months away. “We’re hoping that Modi and Yogi bind the electorate to us. Modi in Western Uttar Pradesh and Maharaj (Yogi) in Eastern Uttar Pradesh “According to a BJP strategist.
Despite the results of internal polls, the repeal demonstrates that the BJP would not contest the UP election. Modi isn’t buying his own press, despite the “godi media’s” enthusiastic remarks.
This is only the second time in Modi’s seven-year presidency that he has had a major policy decision overturned. The first was the 2015 Land Acquisition Ordinance, which was allowed to lapse after Rahul Gandhi of the Congress criticised the Modi government as “suit boot ki sarkar” (a government for the rich).
The farm regulations, which the Supreme Court had put on hold, had become a huge liability for Modi. He has put that behind him with an apology.
(Aryan Jakhar is a journalist who has worked with several news web-portals like BusinessUpturn and more and now Aryan Jakhar is serving as an editor-in-chief and founder of The Shining Media.)
Disclaimer: The author’s views presented in this post are his or her own personal views. The facts and opinions presented in the article do not reflect The Shining Media’s views, and The Shining Media accepts no responsibility or accountability for them.
Aryan Jakhar works as an Editor-in-Chief at The Shining Media. Also, he is an editor at YouthPolitician (digital media situated in Taiwan). He writes his opinions on social issues at YouthKiAwaaz and also on his blogger website.