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Published On: Thu, Sep 17th, 2020

Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigns from Modi govt over ‘anti-farmer law ‘

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Harsimrat-kaur-770x433NEW DELHI : Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has resigned from the Modi government in protest against the farm bills. This comes after the Punjab MPs of Congress criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership for being in the BJP-led NDA even after these bills were proposed by the government. She had been the only SAD representative in the Modi government. The Punjab party is the oldest BJP ally.

“I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister,” Badal tweeted.
Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD) could never be a party to any decision that goes against the interests of the farmers, she said in a press statement. However, on the three-decades old alliance formed by Parkash Singh Badal and Atal Behari Vajpayee she said she was confident that the alliance would continue to work together.
The minister, who was part of the cabinet meet that cleared the bills, stepped down shortly before the voting in Lok Sabha, tweeting that she was “Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter & sister”.
The Akali leader, who represents Bhatinda in the Lok Sabha, walked out of the Lok Sabha when the House was taking up discussion on the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also her husband, announced in Lok Sabha that she will quit the Modi government over the issue. “I announce that Harsimrat Kaur Badal will resign from the government,” he said in Lok Sabha. However, the party will continue to support the BJP-led government at the Centre and will also remain a part of the NDA alliance.
Ms Badal said she was deeply hurt that despite her and her party’s persistent pleas and efforts in this regard, the government had not taken the farmers on board.

“I am proud that today I am able in my humble way to take that legacy forward,” said Badal, adding that she deemed it an honour that farmers always have the greatest expectations from SAD alone, and that the party has always lived up to those expectations.
“That legacy will not change, come what may. The trust farmers place in us is sacred to us,” she said. In his speech during a discussion on two of the farm bills, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the proposed laws will “destroy” the 50 years of hard work done by successive Punjab governments to build the farm sector.
Recalling Punjab’s massive contribution in making India self-sufficient in food grain production Badal vehemently opposed the bills.
Farmers of Punjab and Haryana are furious over the three bills – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 – and have been holding protests against the Centre.
Reacting to this development, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh termed Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s decision to quit the Union Cabinet as theatrics being enacted by the SAD.

Questioning the party’s decision to continue to remain a part of the BJP-led NDA coalition at the centre, the Chief Minister said even Harsimrat’s resignation was nothing more than a gimmick to befool the farmers of Punjab.“But they (the Akalis) will not succeed in misleading the farmer organisations,” he said, calling it a case of ‘too little, too late.’
The Congress on Thursday said the farm sector legislations brought in by the Centre defeat the purpose of the Green Revolution and will be “a death knell for the future of farming” and alleged that the Modi government, akin to the coronavirus pandemic, was attacking lives and livelihood of farmers.

“The draconian laws on agriculture will be a death knell for the future of farming in India,” said Congress leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Randeep Surjewala and Gaurav Gogoi. Some Congress MPs from Punjab also burnt copies of the farm bills brought in by the government inside the Parliament Complex.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, however, pointed out that the Akalis still stand with the BJP and called the resignation a “gimmick”. Amarinder Singh said Harsimrat Kaur’s resignation was “too little too late”. Questioning the Akali Dal’s decision to continue to remain a part of the ruling NDA, he said the resignation was nothing more than a gimmick to fool the farmers of Punjab.
The bills  which the BJP claims is big ticket reform in the agri sector have hugely upset the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, who have been holding protests for weeks. The government said the bills, whch would replace the three ordinances issued in June, will help farmers across the country get a better market and price for their produce.
The Akalis, who initially supported the laws, made a U-turn this week after realising the depth of the farmers’ resentment. The party had appealed to the Centre to hold off the bills till the concerns of the farmers are addressed.
In his speech during a discussion on two of the bills — the Produce Trade and Commerce and the Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill — Sukhbir Singh Badal said the proposed laws will “destroy” the 50 years of hard work done by successive Punjab governments to build the farm sector.

Earlier, Mr Badal had claimed that Harsimrat Kaur had “expressed reservations when the matter was taken up during a cabinet meeting”. She had said her ministry opposed the proposal during the inter-ministerial consultation too.
But most political parties have been skeptical about the claim.

On Tuesday, Mr Badal voted against the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to deregulate agricultural food items, including cereals, pulses and onion.

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