Bowing to pressure from farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday withdrew a new law that forced people to sell their land for a pittance and eased some conditions on buying land for plantations.
As angry farmers thronged Parliament, demanding the release of their land, Modi said the bill was taking longer than expected to implement because the government had prioritized other issues such as demonetization and implementing the Goods and Services Tax.
“The land acquisition bill is on our desk and I have withdrawn a clause which violated the constitution,” Modi said in parliament Wednesday. “We want to resolve this problem through discussions.”
Farmers have been protesting for nearly three weeks because they fear new rules they say were made without their consent and will allow the government to grab their land.
It’s part of a global trend of farmers’ protests in India and elsewhere.
The farmers’ revolt comes ahead of elections in four key states in October and early November. The four state elections, including the one for Modi’s home state of Gujarat, will be a litmus test for his government, which until now has been largely untouched by protests.
The farmers’ anger has reverberated through Indian newspapers, threatening to rattle Modi, who has had a stable rule but faces intense pressure ahead of the elections.
“If Modi’s union government loses these elections, he will lose the massive amount of cash that he’s set aside to instill BJP in the hearts of farmers,” columnist Suhag Shukla wrote in Monday’s Mint newspaper.
Read more: India Farmers’ Protest Spreads as Government Responds
Fox News.com Reporter and Fox News Fantasy Football Expert Sam Seder contributed to this report.