On Saturday December 5 the Government of India is scheduled to hold the 5th round of talks with protesting farmers’ movements. There are at least 21 compelling reasons why the government should accept the main demand of farmers for repealing the three controversial laws. These reasons relate mainly to the fact that acceptance of this key demand will be good for the welfare of the people of India, but in addition I have also included those reasons where acceptance of this demand will also be good for the self-interests of the NDA, the BJP and its leadership.
1. First and foremost, it should be agreed by all that taking back one or more laws which are causing massive discontent among people is not at a defeat or even retreat for the government. This is the way a democracy should work to avoid unrest and discontent. Without losing face the Modi government can announce—As we have already stated many times these are good laws, but as there has been a lot of misunderstanding and apprehension about this, to satisfy our farmer brothers and sisters we agree to re-examine all the related matters and with this spirit, and keeping in view the very high respect we have for the farmers—the annadata– we accept the demand for the repeal of the three farm laws. Expressed something like this, this will never be seen as a defeat or retreat of the government by the common people of India.
2. If the big stand-off is resolved in such a peaceful way with goodwill, this will be celebrated as a big achievement of Indian democracy.
3. The national and international standing of Mr. Modi and his government will go up.
4. BJP/NDA have suffered a big loss of base in Punjab, a very important state whose importance goes much beyond the number of MPs it elects. BJP/NDA can get a lot of goodwill in Punjab with such a peaceful and goodwill based resolution, perhaps paving the way for the return of its alliance with the Akali Dal, which will help BJP/NDA at the national level as well.
5. BJP/NDA will be strengthened in Haryana and the risk of its main ally leaving or the government collapsing will go away.
6. BJP/NDA/Mr. Modi will get more support in the powerful NRI community.
7. A quick resolution of the stand-off will be good for health reasons in Covid times.
8. A quick resolution will help to reduce mounting problems in Delhi and neighboring areas and hence gain goodwill for BJP/Mr. Modi.
9. Problems faced by commuters and people living near dharna areas will be quickly resolved.
10. Rabi or winter crop sowing, as well as other important agricultural operations will be greatly helped if farmers can return to their work peacefully very soon. In difficult times it is important to ensure that the staple wheat crop is not disturbed in very important wheat growing areas.
11. Keeping in view Jai Jawan Jai Kisan it is important to remember that soldiers fighting for the country, also paramilitary and police forces, have very close links with farmer families and are also emotionally attached to them.
12. An early and peaceful resolution on a note of goodwill will help all patriotic forces in the border state of Punjab and harm the interests of seperatists or khalistani who are present in Punjab as well as in countries like Canada, UK etc..
13. A very important factor is that these three controversial farm laws are actually not good for the farming sector and for farmers. These laws advance the interests of the corporate sector and not of good farming or of farmers. Having hurriedly pushed these laws under corporate influence/pressure and being caught in the process, the government should think in terms of a quiet and dignified retreat instead of prolonging its defense of the bad laws.
14. These laws were enacted very hurriedly without proper consultation with farmers. There is no evidence of these laws being based on the demands of farmers.
15. Despite the more important role given to state governments by the Indian constitution on agriculture and related matters, there was not adequate consultation with state governments before these legislations.
16. The entire legislative process for these laws was one of unseemly hurry, starting with ordinances, then rushing through Lok Sabha avoiding adequate debate and reference to parliamentary committee. Finally the way the laws were passed in Rajya Sabha set a very bad example and a detailed review of this would reveal shocking inadequacies. Hence the entire legislative process itself was flawed while the unjustified hurry and pushing raised doubts about the real intentions. This single factor by itself is enough to justify the demand for repeal.
17. If repeal becomes a starting point to listen to genuine demands of farmers then this will greatly help farmers.
18. This in turn will greatly increase the goodwill for the Modi government among farmers.
19. A lot of people sympathise with the dharna of farmers and a peaceful, goodwill based resolution will make them very happy. This will bring happiness not just to protestors, not just to Punjab and Haryana, but to a very large number of people all over the country and abroad who have formed an emotional bonding with the protestors at dharna sites and with their dignified protest, their langars and sharing, joys and sorrows.
20. The stability of the farm sector based on satisfaction of farmers and goodwill with the government will help the crisis-ridden economy.
21. The country passing through troubled and dismal times badly needs a feel-good situation, something to cheer about and a quick peaceful resolution on note of goodwill will provide this opportunity.
Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements. He has received several awards for rural and development reporting.