Harsimrat Kaur ejects out of Cabinet over farm bills, her party stays in NDA
While announcing the SAD’s decision to withdraw Harsimrat Badal from the Modi Cabinet, her husband and party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said the SAD would continue to support the government and BJP, but will oppose the anti-farmer policies.
Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has resigned from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, as the BJP ally on Thursday opposed the two farm bills that seek to liberalise the agriculture sector, exposing a crucial rift on the issue of farmers and agricultural reforms.
“I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter & sister,” tweeted Harsimrat Badal.
The party, however, continues to be a part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance. While announcing the SAD’s decision to withdraw their minister from the Modi Cabinet, her husband and party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said the SAD would continue to support the government and BJP, but will oppose the anti-farmer policies. \
Watch | Harsimrat Kaur resigns from Union Cabinet in protest against farm bills
“These bills have many provisions that go against farmers’ interests. We have repeatedly asked the government that please address the apprehensions of farmers, but the government has done nothing. Therefore, I oppose these bills,” SAD MP from Ferozpur, Sukhbir Singh Badal said in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the 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, which replace similar ordinances.
The SAD had been requesting the Centre not to go ahead with the three agriculture-related bills for approval of Parliament “until all reservations expressed by farmers’ organisations, farmers and farm labourers” are addressed.
On September 12, the party had formally asked the Centre not to enact three farm ordinances during the monsoon session of Parliament, which began on September 14.
On Tuesday, Sukhbir Badal, the MP from Punjab’s Ferozepur, voted against the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha, saying the proposed legislation was “against the interests of farmers”.
“The legislation will affect the entire procurement system. It is not just about mandis. It doesn’t take into account the realities of our farm sector,” Badal said, opposing the bills today.
The SAD was a party of farmers, Sukhbir Badal said. The Centre would have done better to organise a meeting with farmers before moving ahead with the bills and adequately address their concerns, he said.
The Congress government in Punjab had passed a resolution in the Vidhan Sabha against the ordinances, prompting the SAD to fiercely oppose the bills after initially supporting it.
The SAD’s core committee had issued a press release saying they had met farm organisations, farmer representatives and representatives to take their views. “Farmers are against these bills because it would make them vulnerable,” Badal said.
Farmers are already protesting these ordinances in food bowl states, such as Haryana and Punjab, and influential farmers’ unions are also preparing to square off with the government on the demand of making profitable sales in the form of minimum support prices, or MSPs, a legal right.
The All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a front for nearly 200 farmers’ groups, has opposed the bills. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh is also unhappy with the ordinances. It demanded safeguards for the farming community, so has the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
Farmer groups said they feared the new changes would lead to big monopolies. This would be just as bad as current cartelisation in mandis known as agricultural produce market committees (APMCs).
“We want the ordinances to be signed into law with appropriate safeguards, such as a national portal of farm trade corporations,” said Mohini Mohan Mishra, all-India secretary of the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.