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Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three controversial farm laws following year long protests

Today Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said he would repeal three contentious agricultural laws that ignited more than a year of protests, in a rare apparent climb down ahead of pivotal state elections. “Today I have come to tell you, the whole country, that we have decided to withdraw all three agricultural laws,” Modi said in an address to the nation, adding the process will be completed in a parliamentary session later this month.Modi acknowledged the significance of farmers and the challenges they have faced. He said it was a priority issue for his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”In this great campaign to improve the condition of farmers, three agricultural laws were brought in the country,” Modi said. “This law was brought in with good intentions,” he continued, adding that despite its efforts, the government was unable to “make them (farmers) understand the importance of the agricultural laws.”

National vice president of the Jai Kisan Andolan farmers’ group, said Modi’s announcement “can be seen as a huge victory for farmers,” but added the government has revoked the laws for “political compulsions.””The government has taken this step, keeping in mind upcoming (state) elections,” he said. In India, farming is a central political issue, and the protests posed a unique challenge to the BJP. Seven Indian states will hold elections early next year to determine whether Modi’s BJP will retain power. His ruling party currently governs six of the seven states, including predominantly agricultural UP Uttar Pradesh. Farmers are the biggest voting community in the country, and the agricultural sector sustains about 58% of India’s 1.3 billion citizens. Angering farmers could see Modi lose a sizable number of votes and have adverse effect.

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