New Delhi, Nov 29 (EFE).- The Indian parliament on Monday withdrew without discussions in both its houses three controversial farm laws that promised agrarian reform and against which thousands of farmers protested for over a year.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 was approved after being passed by the Lok Sabha, or the lower house, and the Rajya Sabha, or the upper house, on the first day of the winter session of the parliament.
“We welcome the withdrawal of the bills, undoubtedly. But we wanted a discussion to let the country know the drawbacks (in the bills), what needs to be done and what we are asking for,” said the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, after the laws were withdrawn.
“Why did not they allow discussion? Why are they running away from the debate?” Kharge stressed.
Due to the government’s wide majority in both houses, the repeal of the laws occurred hurriedly, even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier during the day expressed willingness to allow debate on it.
“Our Government is ready to answer all questions during the Winter Session of the Parliament. We should debate in the Parliament, and maintain the decorum of the proceedings,” Modi said at the start of the session.
Now, the three laws passed by the Indian Government a little over a year ago will become ineffective once the bill repealing them is signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The approval of the bill comes days after the Indian prime minister unexpectedly announced his decision to revoke the farm laws.
Despite year-long protests by peasants, Modi’s government vehemently defended the three laws, claiming they would give new impetus to the agricultural sector and give farmers more power to access the market.
These laws relaxed a series of rules on the minimum selling price, storage, and negotiation with industry, which had prevented the entry of the agriculture sector into the free market.
Farmers, however, viewed the reforms as against their interest, as it would leave them at the mercy of large enterprises, further in their detriment, given that peasants are India’s largest and most marginalized labor force.
This immediately led to protests by thousands of peasants who marched to New Delhi and have been camped on the outskirts of the Indian capital for over a year, demanding the repeal of the laws.
This is one of the biggest protests the Modi government has faced during its term, and protesters have announced that they will continue until other demands are met, such as coverage of more items under the minimum support price.
The decision to repeal the laws comes months ahead of the regional legislative elections in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, two agricultural states where rural discontent could prove decisive. EFE