On 19Nov'21, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement to repeal the farm reform laws, which the farmers have been protesting against for more than a year. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) raised three controversial farm laws, which were subsequently approved by the parliament in Sep'20 and which Modi and his party men defended rather vehemently, as aimed at reforming the agriculture sector. Since then, The Government was facing relentless street protests by the farmers, emanating mainly from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh on the borders of Delhi. Hundreds of farmers have sacrificed their valuable lives in this year-long protest. At last, the Head of the State acknowledged the imbroglio caused at the behest of his Government and ate a humble pie to his countrymen. This political maneuver has a significant role in democracy and ushers other democratic nations to learn a lesson in tolerance about dissidents.
India is the largest democracy in the World. But in the last decade, BJP has exhibited the proclivity for tough and decisive governance. The ruling party leaders, including PM himself, often pointed to its penchant for many firm decisions, like scrapping of Article 370, National Registration of Citizens, Citizenship Amendment Act, demonetization in 2016, etc. The marginalization of minority rights was also fairly prevalent in various corners in India. Subsequently, on 05June'20, BJP Government proposed three farm Laws in the parliament without due consultation with the farmer's organizations, the genuine stakeholders. These three bills were passed in Lok Sabha on 17 September'20 and Rajya Sabha on 20 September'20. More than 40 farmers' organizations were united to form "Kisan morcha" and have been protesting to repeal these bills since 25 Nov'20 from Punjab and Haryana. Later, this agitation was fanned out in Goa, Uttar Pradesh. Since then, the Government has been sitting for an amicable resolution vis-à-vis with the farmers' organizations, on as many as seven occasions. In the end, Mr. Modi has taken the right decision at the right time to win over popular perceptions for electoral politics in a democratic manner.
Every spare of the analysis has pointed out the trumps of electoral politics over economic developments. That is partially true because The fresh assembly polls are going to be held in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa next February. But the indomitable agitation of farmers erupted and diverged from these states. Very recently, the saffron party has seen poor performance in four by-polls in these States. Now BJP leadership wants to put the coming round of assembly polls as an acid test ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
On the other hand, Modi's gestures and political wit have a magnanimous impact on democratic culture. Since Modi first assumed the office in 2014, his political gesture has been indicative of a tough, unyielding, authoritarian strongman who does not bow to people's voices. The way Mr. Modi's popularity was skyrocketing, many political pundits were anticipating an India sliding towards authoritarianism. But now, BJP wants to achieve the “soft vote” of Sikh farmers, who all are the core strength of this protest, by announcing the decision to withdraw the laws on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Mr. Modi does not want to leave a space for the Khalistan movement amid the deterioration of Maoists, seven sisters, Kashmir scenarios internally and externally the China, Pakistan or foreign radical groups. So, Modi's climb down is seen by most analysts as a strategic political maneuver to contain the political pressure and win on crisis opportunity theory.
It is said that democracy is arguably the best among the worst systems of governance. Modi's move was hailed as a much-needed triumph of democracy where dissidents are honored. This flagrant example should be practiced by other democratic nations. In Bangladesh, for example, experts are concerned about Sundarban for the Rampal coal power plant or Digital Security Act (DSA). Vessel movements will disrupt the biodiversity and pollute the environment of Sundarban. The journalists have been raising their voices against DSA and appalling for their freedom of expression. Now if the Government takes the lessons from the recent political maneuver in India, then the Government must pay attention to people's voices, which are directly related to the policy. And that is where lies the beauty of democracy.
M A Hossain, a political and defense analyst, writes on diversified topics in Bangladeshi and foreign newspapers. His Twitter handle is:@writemah71