PM’s move to repeal the farm laws stands BJP in good stead in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand; move may impact Punjab politics too.
New Delhi: In what is being seen as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s masterstroke ahead of state Assembly elections in five states, the decision to repeal the three farm laws has completely derailed the Opposition’s electoral strategy. PM Modi’s decision will have its impact on poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand’s terai region. Moreover, it will have far-reaching political implications in Punjab where only Congress and AAP were in direct contest.
Now, the Punjab electoral scene will be interesting, with former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh having already announced to fight the election in alliance with the BJP. Now all eyes are on the Akali Dal, with the question doing the rounds whether it will also join hands with the BJP. The Akalis had severed ties with the BJP-led NDA in protest against the farm laws. So, Punjab is definitely going to see a big political impact of farm laws being repealed. At this point of time, one may recall Amarinder’s repeated statements that the farm laws would be repealed. The Modi government had also realized how important it was to resolve the deadlock over farm laws. So, PM Modi surprised everyone by suddenly announcing the repeal of the three farm laws three months before the Assembly elections. His decisions on demonetization and withdrawal of land acquisition law had also taken everyone aback.
PM Modi’s decisions have been helping the BJP to score over the opposition. The opposition had tried to make demonetization a big political issue but the BJP ended up gaining a lot. Similarly, the opposition could not derive any political mileage out of the repeal of land acquisition law in 2017 when the saffron party not only registered a landslide win in UP but also formed its governments in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The same situation still persists.
The entire opposition, including Congress, was hopeful of reaping a substantial political gain out of the farm laws. Congress has launched a country-wide agitation against these laws. Congress former chief Rahul Gandhi had kick-started the movement against these laws from Punjab. The party leaders met the President of India seeking withdrawal of the farm laws. The Congress governments in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan passed resolutions against these laws in their respective assemblies.
In the similar manner, Rahul Gandhi had launched a campaign against the land acquisition law. Upstaging the Congress and opposition in view of UP elections, PM Modi had announced its repeal in 2015 during his monthly Mann Ki Baat. When UP elections took place in 2017, the opposition failed to derive any political mileage from this. It was Congress’ worst ever performance in UP polls then. Now, the same situation is visible after five years. The Opposition was on road against the farm laws, and PM Modi’s one announcement took the wind out of its sails. The Opposition parties, which were already having anxious moments after Rahul Gandhi, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid’s statements on Hindutva to suit the BJP’s politics, are all the more clueless after PM Modi’s announcement to repeal the three farm laws.
Despite all that, the Congress does not seem to learn its lessons from past mistakes, as is indicated by the statements of Rahul Gandhi and his colleagues. Congress had to suffer a lot twice in Gujarat due to such statements. Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s “Maut ke Saudagar” words had cost the party dearly in the 2007 election. Rahul Gandhi invited controversy by hurling serious charges at PM Modi after the surgical strike. The BJP had made it an electoral issue in 2017 in UP. Mani Shankar Aiyar spoiled the chances of Congress in Gujarat polls in 2017 when he used the “neech” word for PM Modi.
The Congress leaders such as Khurshid, Aiyar repeated the same mistake by reviving the Hindutva issue at a time when the BJP’s graph in UP was seen declining in different surveys. Facing tough times due to price rise, farmers problems, etc, the saffron party also lost no time to grab the issue of Hindutva. Rest of the job was done by PM Modi’s announcement to repeal the farm laws. Now, the central government is expected to come up with some more announcements that please the voters in the poll-bound states. The Hindutva agenda will already be there for BJP to raise in UP and Uttarakhand. If Punjab sees the coming together of BJP, Amarinder and Akalis, then the electoral contest will be an interesting one. The Modi government has already facilitated the saffron party by reducing the prices of petroleum products, opening of Kartarpur corridor and repealing the farm laws.