On their first visit to Punjab after SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet, the Badal couple – Sukhbir and Harsimrat — faced separate protests from Congress and AAP workers on the streets, but reiterated that no alliance was more important to them than guarding interests of the farmers.
With questions swirling over the future of the SAD-BJP alliance, Sukhbir said: “Our 100-year-old party is for the kisan and for the interests of farmers. We don’t think that any alliance is important for us or even any government.”
Earlier in the day, as their convoy left Badal village for Talwandi Sabo to pay obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib Gurdwara, they had to change the route twice, first due to a protest by Congress workers en route and then because of a protest by AAP led by party MLAs Baljinder Kaur and Rupinder Ruby in Talwandi Sabo. The protesters at both spots accused the Badals of being “anti-farmer” and “opportunists”.
Navigating around the protests, the Badals’ convoy arrived at the Takht Damdama Sahib at around 11.30 am.
Addressing Akali supporters inside the jam-packed gurdwara hall with a capacity of over 5,000 people, Sukbhir said: “After Harsimrat gave her resignation, the entire country shook. No minister has resigned so far on this issue except Harsimrat….She gave her resignation at the right time as it hurts more when you hit at the right time and at the right spot.”
He added: “My father patted my back for the first time in my political career after I took a stand in interest of farmers and voted against the three farm Bills which are called as ‘kale kanoon’. Congress and ‘topi wale’ (AAP) are calling it a U-turn…but let me tell you – Akalis have no back gear at all. Neither any government is important nor any alliance,”
Bathinda Lok Sabha MP Harsimrat Badal said:“Je Sarkar Kisan te kala kanoon laga rahi hai…lanat hai aisi kursi nu, maro thhuda eho jihi kursi nu, apna faraz ada karde hoe kisan de nal kharhi haan( if the government is imposing a black law, then to hell with such a chair, kick such a chair. To fulfil my duty, I am standing with farmers) Till now, we were folding hands, but now we will take our rights by fighting and we will shake Delhi.”
Asserting that she had raised objections on ordinances when they came before her in third week of May, Harsimrat said: “I have written my objections on all the three Bills. Later in Cabinet meetings as well, I objected. Afterwards, I met farmers and gave their viewpoint to the government and asked that inclusion of MSP and mandis should be part of the Act, but when nothing was done, party president decided to protest. When the party president is protesting, there is no point staying in government….Only after my resignation and our voting against the Bills, opposition raised a hue and cry in the Rajya Sabha.”
While thanking Akali supporters for turning up in large numbers despite the pandemic, Sukhbir attacked Congress, saying: “First, Sunil Jakhar and Punjab CM need to explain why they gave their approval to all the three ordinances earlier and did not object even once. Second, all these things were in Congress’s manifesto in 2017 and they have even implemented them since August 2107. Moreover, similar promises were in Congress’s manifesto for Lok Sabha elections. So who is changing stand? They need to answer….Moreover, on the day when the essential commodities amendment bill was passed in Parliament, Congress and AAP MPs disappeared. Farmer associations have clearly stated that the ones who stayed absent will be considered as supporting the Bill. SAD was the only party which voted against this Bill. It was two SAD MPs against all BJP MPs, standing tall and voting against all the three Bills.”
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