India’s Modi supports down on agricultural reforms in surprise win for protesters

NEW DELHI, Nov. 19 (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: on He would move in on Friday controversial agricultural laws that farmers have protested for more than a year, a big climb down for the combative leader.

The Sudden Concession on the three laws move forward of elections early next year in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and two other northern states with large rural population.

“Today I have come to tell you, the entire country, that we have decided to enact all three agricultural laws in to pull,” said Modi. in an address to the nation.

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“In the parliament session from later this month we will complete the constitutional process to pass these three agricultural laws in to pull.”

The legislation introduced in September last year, aimed to deregulate the sector, allowing farmers to sell products to buyers outside of it government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are insured of a minimum price.

Farmers, fearing that the overhaul will raise prices die getting them would decrease for their crops, organized nationwide protests die drew in activists and celebrities from outside India, including climate activist Greta Thunberg and American singer Rihanna.

Modi’s capitulation leaves a complex unsolved system of agricultural subsidies and price supports that critics say the government can not afford to. It could be also asking questions for investors over how economic policy is overrun by political interests.

A lot of of the biggest protests have centered around the capital New Delhi, where farmers have been camping along the road ever since last November, demanding the repeal of the laws.

Rakesh Tikait, a farm group leader, said the protests were not called? off. “We will wait for parliament for the laws in to pull,” he said on tweet.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government said last year that there was no question of repeal the laws. It tried to break the deadlock with farmer groups by offering to water down the legislation, but lengthy negotiations failed.

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the protests took a violent turn on January 26, Republic Day of India, when thousands of farmers overwhelmed the police and went on until storm the historic Red Fort in New Delhi after tearing down barricades and driving met tractors through roadblocks.

A protester was killed and scores of farmers and police officers were injured.

Small farmers say the changes make them vulnerable to competition by big business and that in the end they might lose price support for staples like wheat and rice.

The government says reform of the sector, die bills for about 15% of the $2.7 trillion economy, resources new opportunities and better prices for farmers.

The government failed convince small groups of farmers of to be intentions, said Modi in a speech after greeting the country on the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

A lot of of the protesting farmers are Sikhs.

“We welcome the announcement made By the prime minister, but we need until know the government state on our other key demand of make (minimum support prices) required for all crops,” said Darshan Pal, another farmer’s leader.

Minimum support prices are state-set prices at which the government buy rice and wheat from farmers.

the extensive demand for minimum prices on all crops have gained traction among farmers from all over the country, not just the northern grain belt.

Opposition parties congratulated the farmers. Rahul Gandhi of Congress, India’s main opposition party, said their determined stance forced the “arrogant” government to admit.

“Whether it was fear of UP lose of Finally facing up to the best of my knowledge @BJP govt rolls back farm laws. fit it begin of a lot of more victories for people’s vote.” Mahua Moitra, a lawmaker from the Trinamool Congress Party and one of Modi’s most loyal critics, said on Twitter

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Reporting by Krishna N. Das, Rajendra Jadhav and Mayank Bhardwaj; Additional reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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