On 19 November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government will be repealing the three contentious farm laws. This is being touted as a momentous decision. Is the move merely an election gimmick or will it really be a game changer for the peasants of India? What role did the small farmers and farm labourers from Dalit and OBC communities play in the movement against the farm laws and what are the issues facing them now? Dhirendra Jha, national president of Akhil Bharatiya Khet Evam Grameen Mazdoor Sabha, spoke with FORWARD Press Hindi Editor Nawal Kishore Kumar. Edited excerpts:
What is your first reaction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement regarding repeal of the farm laws?
It is certainly a big victory. The entire farming community had forged a joint front to oppose the pro-corporate policies of the Modi dispensation and their victory has proved that even a fascist government has to bow before a mass movement against any measure. In this sense, it is a major victory. I salute all those who had joined the protest. But this victory is not complete. Many battles lie ahead. For instance, a new law is needed to ensure that the farmers get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce. Also, the way the corporate sector is interfering with policymaking shows that the danger looming large over the food-producers has far from receded. Then, there are issues related to farm labourers and small and tenant farmers.