Agnipath firestorm mirrors farm laws, CAA pushback

The BJP’s announcement that the party-led Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment of soldiers into the armed forces will not be undone despite widespread youth protests, may still resonate in the corridors of power.

In December 2020, when a long winter of discontent began on the borders of Delhi as thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana arrived there to protest the three controversial agriculture laws passed by Parliament in September 2020, the BJP’s exemption ruled definitively from any possibility of repealing these laws.

Eleven months later, in November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of farm lawsHe described it as a decision taken “in the interest of the country.”

The period from June 2020, when agriculture laws were first passed as ordinances, to their abrupt withdrawal a year and a half later, marked by unprecedented protests and firm rejection by the Saffron Party, exposed the weaknesses of intimidation numerically. The government’s push for such reforms have wide-ranging social repercussions.

In cases of both farm laws as well as implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – National Register of Citizens (NRC) which is also in almost limbo, the opposition-ruled states along with some BJP allies have staged a major reaction, which is reflected in the Agnipath now fallout with the scheme facing stiff resistance from BJP’s biggest ally JD(U) and states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Telangana.

In the congress-ruled state of Rajasthan, Ashok Jhelot’s cabinet passed a resolution last Saturday urging the center to withdraw the Agnipath scheme “with due regard to the broader public interest and sentiments of the youth”.

The leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rakesh Teket, who has been the face of farmers’ agitation for a year on the Delhi border, has publicly come out against the Agnipath scheme, announcing on Monday that Samyukt Kisan Morcha – who led the farm move – will stage protests against Agnipath at the district headquarters across the country. across the country on June 24.

In plantation laws, Punjab, which was the epicenter of the unrest, was the first state to raise the banner of revolution. The state, then governed by Congress, passed bills on October 20, 2020, seeking to repeal the center’s three farming legislation. On 11 November, the Punjab Council also passed a resolution against the laws.

The BJP’s longest-serving ally Shiromani Akali Dal, who had been a minister in the Federal Cabinet when the farm ordinances were issued, also withdrew from the NDA in September 2020 in protest of his resignation from the government.

Following Punjab’s move, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, which are also Congress-governed states, followed suit, passing bills to repeal central agriculture legislation on October 27 and November 2, respectively. In left-ruled Kerala, the state assembly passed a resolution against the laws on December 31, followed by the ruling of the Transitional Military Council in West Bengal on January 28, 2021.

However, even in the face of such massive opposition, the center has sought to show a defiant face, with Prime Minister Modi declaring a section of the anti-agricultural protesters as “Andulangevis” while responding to the president’s speech in the Rajya Sabha. Some BJP leaders targeted the protesters as “Khalesites”, adding fuel to the firestorm.

There was no let up in the clamor to repeal the laws, with more decisions being passed against them, including by the Delhi-ruled AAP on July 30, 2021, and by DMK-ruled Tamil Nadu on August 28. On November 20, Modi announced the decision to repeal the laws.

The Civil Aviation Law, passed by Parliament in December 2019, has not yet been implemented, with the government not yet informed of its rules. The Civil Aviation Act first sparked violent protests in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state of Assam.

Later, anti-CAA-NRC protests spread to other parts of the country – including Delhi, which saw more than three months of incitement at Shaheen Bagh and in February 2020, it was the worst community violence since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

Ahead of the Bengal assembly elections last year, Federal Home Minister Amit Shah promised that the implementation of the Civil Aviation Act would be the “first decision of the state cabinet” if the BJP forms the government. Later, he said it will be published after the end of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

Meanwhile, councils in the opposition-ruled states have started passing resolutions against the CAA one by one: Kerala (December 31, 2019), Punjab (January 17, 2020), Rajasthan (January 25, 2020), West Bengal (January 27). 2020). ), Puducherry (Feb 12, 2020), Bihar (Feb 25, 2020) and Telangana (March 16, 2020). In Tamil Nadu, where DMK ousted NDA partner AIADMK from power last year, the assembly passed an anti-CAA resolution on September 8, 2021.

While the BJP government continues to claim that implementation of the Civil Aviation Act remains a top priority, the deadline has been repeatedly extended. Last month, Shah said that the law, which seeks to speed up citizenship for persecuted non-Muslim religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before December 2014, would be implemented “after COVID is over”.

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