Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s decision to quit the Union Cabinet in protest over the farm bills was nothing more than a “gimmick to befool the farmers of Punjab”.
Singh also questioned SAD’s decision to continue to remain a part of the BJP-led NDA coalition despite the “slap on their face” by the Centre over the farm bills. “But they (the Akalis) will not succeed in misleading the farmer organisations,” he said, calling it a case of “too little, too late”.
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal announced in Lok Sabha on Thursday that Harsimrat Kaur Badal would resign as minister of Food Processing Industries in protest over the farm bills that the government had introduced in Parliament. An NDA ally, SAD has been at loggerheads with the BJP over the farm bills, which has triggered strong protests in Punjab and Haryana by farmer organisations. The protesting farmers have said that these would end the assured minimum support price regime for agriculture produce.
“Had SAD taken a stand earlier and supported my government against the ordinances, the situation might not even have come to such a pass, and the Centre might have thought ten times before introducing the ordinances and pushing the anti-farmer legislations in Parliament,” Singh said.
The Punjab CM said the sole reason for SAD to pull their only minister out of the Union Cabinet was not out of concern for the farmers but to save their political fortunes since the “Badals had lost all credibility in the eyes of Punjab’s people”.
“It was the angst of the farmers and the pressure mounted by the state’s farmer organisations, which were up in arms against the vicious ordinances brought in by the Government of India, that had compelled the Badals to change their stance on the ordinances,” he said.
“Did Sukhbir and Harsimrat and their coterie did not see the damage the legislations would do to Punjab’s agriculture and economy all this time? Or were they so blinded by their greed for power that they deliberately chose to close their eyes to the danger posed by the ordinances?” asked the Chief Minister.
With their game-plan completely exposed, Singh said the Akalis were left with no option but to take a public stand against the farm bills to protect their electoral vote-bank in Punjab. “The people of the state had rejected them earlier and will reject them again,” he said.
The government introduced the Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on Monday to replace ordinances promulgated earlier. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
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