Farmers not ready to forgive Modi despite U-turn on farm laws

New Delhi, November 20 (KMS): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has surrendered before the demands of protesting farmers and scraped the farm laws but reaction to the shock U-turn in India’s rural north has been less than positive.

In the village of Mohraniya, some 500 km by road east of the capital New Delhi and located in Uttar Pradesh, farmer Guru Sevak Singh said that he and others like him lost faith in Modi and his party.

“Today Prime Minister Modi realised that he was committing blunder, but it took him a year to recognise this and only because he now knows farmers will not vote for his party ever again,” said Singh.

For the young farmer, the matter is deeply personal. Singh’s 19-year-old brother Guruvinder was killed in October when a car ran over the demonstrators protesting against the farm laws.

In 2020, Modi government passed three farm laws in a bid to overhaul the agriculture sector that employs about 60% of India’s workforce but is deeply inefficient, in debt and prone to pricing wars. Angry farmers took to the streets, saying the reforms put their jobs at risk and handed control over crops and prices to private corporations. The resulting protest movement became one of the India’s biggest and most protracted.

Leaders of six farmer unions who spearheaded the movement in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab states said they would not forgive a government that labelled protesting farmers as terrorists and anti-nationals.

“Farmers were beaten with sticks, rods and detained for demanding legitimate rights … farmers were mowed down by a speeding car belonging to a minister’s family … tell me how can we forget it all?” said Sudhakar Rai, a senior member of a farmers’ union in Uttar Pradesh.

But farmers like Singh warned that the Modi government could pay a price for its treatment of farmers. “We are the backbone of the country and Modi has today accepted that his policies were against farmers,” said Singh. “I lost my brother in this mess and no one can bring him back.”