NEW DELHI: Faced with the ‘yes or no’ stance of the farmers unions, the NDA government has made it clear that there’s no going back on the farm laws beyond fine-tuning.
The BJP’s poll performances in states after the enactment of the legislations have emboldened the government to test the strength of the agitation, with the assessment within the party being that the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme is acting as a buffer against the farmers’ anger.
The fact that the next electoral challenge is months away, that too in states where subsistence farming is mostly the norm, has also shaped the stance of the ruling dispensation in dealing with the agitating farmers.
The BJP faces poll test in Assam and West Bengal next year and both the states are seen as regions of subsistence farming where the MSP or the APMC focused agitation hasn’t found much resonance.
Within the government, the stubborn demand of the farmers for repealing the laws, coupled with the threat to choke Delhi by blocking the highways, is being seen as an outright and unacceptable blackmail.
BJP leaders opined that a rollback of the farm laws would weaken the government’s confidence to push reforms and give negative signals to foreign investors.
That’s too heavy a price to pay with long-term ramifications at a time when the country is much more dependent on foreign fund inflow to support the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, they believe.
The PM-Kisan Nidhi Samman scheme, under which the Centre credits Rs 3,000 a year in farmers’ bank accounts, was unveiled ahead of the general elections as the BJP realised that the agrarian unrest in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had cost it dearly in 2018.
The BJP feels the cash transfer has been paying rich dividends for the party with endorsement for PM Modi growing in rural areas.
Besides, the BJP’s electoral march has been on the back of the government’s welfare schemes targeted at weaker sections, including marginal farmers and farm labourers, who have hardly benefitted from the MSP driven farm policies.