New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his inimitable style, surprised the Indian people on the day of Gurpurab, the 19th of November, by announcing that the farm laws, against which certain sections have been agitating, would be repealed.
The Indian Prime Minister has always put the nation’s unity and integrity above all other considerations, and perhaps therefore chose not to give any handle to vested interests, particularly Pakistan sponsored and funded elements, to create divisions and instability in Indian society, and especially among Sikhs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi graciously accepted that perhaps there had been shortcomings in his government’s attempts to explain the benefits of the farm laws, which would free farmers to sell their produce to whomever they wished, to the protesting sections of farmers. The farm laws, whose intention was to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable small farmers, who constitute the vast majority of the agrarian population, had faced severe opposition from some groups of larger farmers in Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh. However, the Prime Minister, with commendable statesmanship, declared that he would not proceed with the laws in the face of such opposition, and would work towards building a consensus.
That the Prime Minister chose the occasion of Guru Nanak Gurpurab to make the announcement is perhaps no coincidence, for he has long been a champion of the Sikh community, beginning with his days as a grassroots level political worker, to his three-time stint as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, and has continued to show the same compassion as the Prime Minister of the country.
It is this, together with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on national security and unity, that, more than anything, have been responsible for the sudden decision. The move has been attributed to electoral considerations because of the upcoming polls in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, however, a deeper reading will reveal this to be a very superficial interpretation. The protests were already dissipating, and in any case, had little resonance outside certain areas of Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh.
Electoral reverses are neither permanent nor all-important, but the integrity of the nation and the fraternity of the people are. Punjab, which has in the past suffered from a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist movement, could not, under any circumstances whatsoever, be allowed to face even the remote possibility of such a situation arising once again. At a time when the country faces security threats from hostile neighbours on all fronts, from Kashmir to the Northeast, Punjab could not be sacrificed for petty political gains.
It is difficult not to respect Prime Minister Modi’s statesmanship and patriotism when one understands the real issues at stake. That the Indian Prime Minister had the courage to accept a blow to the image of his government as a ‘tough’ government which would not make concessions under threat of intimidation, in the larger interests of the nation and for the good of the Sikh community, reveal a magnanimity, foresight and commitment to his country rarely seen even among leaders in today’s world.