A day after the passage of two contentious agriculture related bills in Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday termed the bills as “historic” and said the bills are a protection shield for farmers. “Farmers have been given new independence in agriculture. They will now have more options and opportunities to sell their produce. I congratulate them on the passage of Bills. It was necessary to bring these to protect them from middlemen. These are farmers’ shields,” he said.
On Thursday, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is the ruling BJP’s oldest ally, resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against the bills,
Accusing the Congress of misleading farmers on the agriculture bills, Modi said, “The people who ruled this country for decades are attempting to mislead the farmers on this issue. They are lying to the farmers.”
The Prime Minister also said that the NDA government is committed to providing farmers appropriate prices through Minimum Support Price. “Farmers are aware and can see who is standing with middlemen and opposing new opportunities for them. My government is committed to providing farmers appropriate price through MSP, the government purchase of their produce will continue. No government has done as much for farmers as NDA in the last six years.”
PM Modi said this after dedicating the Kosi rail mega bridge to the nation and inaugurating several rail projects in the Bihar via video conference. Launching the projects, the Prime Minister said, “New history has been created in rail connectivity in Bihar with the inauguration of 12 projects. 325 km rail line was commissioned in Bihar in 5 years before 2014 and 700 km commissioned in 5 years since 2014.”
“These projects, worth almost Rs 3000 Crores, will not only strengthen Bihar’s rail network but also strengthen West Bengal and eastern India’s rail connectivity. I congratulate everyone,” he added.
The Lower House passed two legislations ––– 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 — through voice vote on Thursday. Moving the bills in the Lower House, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said they are aimed at making farming profitable and clarified that these bills would not have any impact on the MSP mechanism. He assured that these legislations would not encroach upon the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts of the states.
While opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, RSP opposed the bills, Harsimrat Kaurresigned from the government in protest. Targeting SAD president Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat, Congress, AAP and SAD (Democratic) had demanded that the latter’s resigned from the Union Cabinet as her position is “untenable” following her party’s stance against the agriculture Bills.
Harsimrat’s resignation has far-reaching consequences for the SAD-BJP in Punjab, putting a major question mark on the future of the alliance. As reported by The Indian Express Thursday, the continuation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal in the Union Cabinet was untenable with the party having taken the position in Lok Sabha that it was against the Bills.
After submitting her resignation to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Harsimrat told reporters on Thursday, “I don’t want to be part of a government which brought farm sector bills without addressing apprehensions of farmers.”
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