Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister to abolish the disputed farm laws is both a strategic and political move. It is as well as a belated acknowledgment of the government’s haste, high-handedness, and lack of legislative acumen.
The rules aimed at deregulating the market had sparked an unprecedented wave of protests in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, posing a serious threat to Mr. Modi. Farmers and civil society were mobilized in Sikh-majority Punjab, and the movement swiftly expanded to portions of Uttar Pradesh, which will hold critical elections early next year. Mr. Modi’s government, taken aback, began calling demonstrators names and steadfastly maintained its position.
The BJP has been working hard to appease the Sikhs, who were not expecting such a backlash. Increased agricultural budget and crop prices, re-opening a historic corridor to one of Sikhism’s holiest temples in Pakistan, and a new probe to punish those responsible for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi were all discussed at the organization’s executive meeting earlier this month.
Mr. Modi seeks to win the trust of farmers in general and Sikhs in particular by scrapping the restrictions. Many people wonder if the measure will help the BJP win elections. The BJP can only hope for tiny gains in Punjab. The party may enjoy some dividends in western Uttar Pradesh, which elects 60 to 80 of the state’s 403 legislators. By halting a potential loss of seats in Uttar Pradesh; the BJP hopes to “comfortably” win the bellwether state and enter the 2024 national election on a solid footing.
For those who backed the farm reforms, it’s another reminder that good economics frequently leads to bad politics. Especially when there is a lack of trust between major stakeholders and the government; as well as partisan and non-consultative politics.