By Harish Manav
Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had put a condition to repeal the agriculture law for the alliance of his new party Punjab Lok Congress with BJP.
The announcement to repeal three contentious farm laws by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Prakashotsav can be a masterstroke of BJP in not only Punjab, but also in other agrarian states including Uttar Pradesh, where assembly elections are scheduled early next year.
The BJP leaders of Punjab are calling it Modi’s “masterstroke” to counter Congress’ Dalit Chief Minister face Charanjit Singh Channi.
The repealing of three laws will show to what extent farmers have got pacified in the longest ever— historical agitation of farmers till now. The upcoming elections will decide how BJP will be benefited from the farmers’ class in farmer-dominated Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh and lowland area of Uttarakhand where the movement has been effective.
Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who has spent more than four decades in the Congress, will begin his new party’s innings with the BJP in the 2022 assembly elections at the age of 79.
Amarinder Singh had put a condition to repeal the agriculture law for the alliance of his new party Punjab Lok Congress with BJP.
BJP, which has been marginalized in Punjab politics after breaking alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal in protest against agricultural laws, will now re-establish its base in alliance with Captain Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress, which has been working towards the party due to the farmers’ movement, turned into a protest.
Reiterating the demand for repeal of agricultural laws, Captain Amarinder had pointed to the BJP’s top leadership two days ago, “How will leaders go to villages for campaigning in the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections if the law is not repealed?”
Punjab BJP President Ashwani Sharma, who described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to repeal the Agriculture Act as a masterstroke, told Outlook: “BJP is a farmer-friendly party. The Prime Minister has taken the right decision to repeal them in case the farmers do not find the agricultural laws beneficial.The party has decided to contest all the 117 seats in Punjab alone, meanwhile, if there is a possibility of an alliance with any other party, it will be considered”.
Many farmer organizations, who termed Modi’s announcement of repealing agricultural laws as a political stunt, say that the abrogation of three agricultural laws is not going to bring any major change in the lives of farmers.
Unless the central government gives a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on all crops, the income of farmers cannot be imagined to increase. Many farmers’ organizations of Punjab are talking about sticking to the movement till the demand for farm loan waivers is not met before the MSP.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union Ugrahan, told Outlook, “With the repeal of three agricultural laws, the agriculture sector is left in the hands of the corporates, but the issue is to get rid of the huge debt on the farmer and increase the income”.
He said that more than 80 per cent of farmers of Punjab cultivating paddy and wheat are already getting MSP, farming is a loss deal, hence the burden on the farmers here is more than 90,000 crores.
Kokri klan said that the election promise of the Congress government of Punjab to make farmers debt-free has not been fulfilled.Out of the Rs 90,000 crore loan, even five per cent of the loan has not been waived. The farmers of Punjab were not relieved even by the loan waiver of Rs 78,000 crore by the UPA government in 2008. Bhartiya Kisan Union Ugrahan says that till the farmers of Punjab become completely debt-free then the movement will continue.
Harish Manav is a political analyst