NEW DELHI: After accepting written assurances from the central government, the farmers finally called off their protest on Thursday against the three reform laws which had been going on since November 26, 2020. The decision comes barely a couple of months before the assembly elections in five states.
In these 12 months, the farmers’ protest had become a major issue not just for the political parties but also for the common man. It was being thought that the agitation would impact the assembly elections which are being held in the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Therefore, the withdrawal of the protest would also affect the outcome of the poll-bound states, particularly UP and Punjab, where the majority of protesters come from.
The farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western UP had held a banner of revolt against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for legislating the three farm reform laws last year. They were camping at three Delhi borders of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur.
Impact outside Delhi borders
The protests and their impact were not just confined to the protest sites. But they adversely affected the commuters to and from Delhi as the roads had been blocked due to the tents and other logistics put up by the farmers.
Besides this, the farmers’ protest took a political turn and it spread beyond the three borders. The protest turned violent on Republic Day, with several policemen sustaining injuries and at least one farmer getting killed.
The farmers showed black flags and blocked passages of the ministers and senior leaders of the ruling BJP in Haryana and UP on several occasions.
They even campaigned against the BJP in the West Bengal assembly election earlier this year. They had declared that they would campaign against the ruling party more vociferously in the upcoming UP and Punjab elections. They had said the stir would continue till 2024 Lok Sabha election if their demands are not met.
Political equilibrium disturbed
The farmers’ agitation also changed the equilibrium of the political formations. Sensing the mood of the farmers, particularly in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) protested against the farm laws and broke its alliance with the BJP-led NDA. SAD was BJP’s oldest alliance partner and had fought all Punjab and Lok Sabha elections in alliance for the past over two decades.
The political equations changed further after Amarinder Singh was replaced with Charanjit Singh Channi as the Punjab chief minister in September. He formed a new political party called Punjab Lok Congress and is all set to forge an alliance with the BJP and SAD faction SAD (Sanyukt) led by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa for Punjab polls.