Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that three controversial farm laws which have led to a year of protests by Indian farmers would be repealed.
The announcement came ahead of key state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, which are home to India’s largest farming communities.
Farmers’ groups have been holding protests since Nov. 2020 to demand the withdrawal of the agricultural laws which the government had said were needed to modernise the farming sector.
The laws aim to ease regulations around the storage and marketing of crops, and farmers feared only big corporations would benefit while farmers would be left at the mercy of the free market.
In an unexpected address to the nation, Modi said the laws were meant to empower small farmers.
“Only a section of them was opposing the laws, but we kept trying to educate, inform them,” he said.
Modi said the government had failed to convince a section of farmers of the benefits of the legislation and that the laws would be repealed in the winter session of parliament.
The stunning turnaround came as a boost for the protesting farmers, thousands of whom had been parked on the roads leading to the national capital for the past year.
Deepak Lamba, president of the Jai Kisan Andolan, a forum for the protesting farmers said the announcement was a victory for farmers.
“This is a big victory for the farmers, seeing their poor prospects in the coming elections because of these laws, the government has been forced to withdraw them,’’ Lamba said.