The withdrawal of the farm laws has given a new life to the idea of protest in India. Only a day before the government looked invincible and the people powerless, destined to accept its laws and diktats legitimised by its brute majority in Parliament. Privately it was being said that the protest was floundering and the farm leadership should have thought about strategically withdrawing the agitation after the suspension of the laws by the government.
We have heard this lament several times in the last seven years of this government: protests do not work. The farmers’ protests were preceded by the anti CAA/NRC agitation which had to be withdrawn—or suspended—because of the pandemic. The protesters then too faced violence and persecution from the state or state-backed non-state actors. But the fact that the government has not yet framed rules for the CAA and put the NRC on hold, even after claiming both were urgent, shows that the protests against the divisive citizenship law did have an impact.