Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal returning his Padma Vibhushan award in protest against the Centre’s farm laws invited mixed response with social activist Medha Patkar terming it a slap on the face of the Modi government even as Congress termed it nothing but a “political compulsion”.
“It (move to return Padma Vibhushan) is his political compulsion to cover up the biggest blunder of his political career of having supported the draconian anti-farmers law,” said Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar.
He added that the Shiromani Skali Dal had committed the biggest blunder by supporting the “anti-farmer laws” due to their lust for power. “Returning Padma Vibhushan now is an afterthought aimed at salvaging the sinking political fortunes of the SAD and not motivated by concern for the farmers as claimed by Badal in his letter to the President of India,” he said.
Jakhar, however, welcomed the move saying it would lend support to the ongoing struggle of the farmers. “However, it will be fruitful only if power-drunk BJP government at Centre takes it seriously and sincerely tries to resolve the problems of the farmers,” Jakhar said.
Punjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa termed Badal’s act as ‘too little, too late’. In a statement, Randhawa said the “act smacks of shunning the responsibility and the SAD cannot wash its hands off the sins committed by the party”. “It would have been far better had the Badal family and the SAD made efforts at getting the black farm laws repealed. Badals must apologize to the farmers for supporting the draconian laws,” he said.
Randhawa also said that that the NDA brought the anti-farmer ordinance with the concurrence of SAD. “It is a well known fact that Harsimrat Kaur Badal was part of the Union Cabinet, which passed the ordinances. For three months, the SAD sang paeans of the ordinances and Parkash Singh Badal went so far as to praise the farm ordinances via a video message, which the Punjabis have not forgotten to this day,” he said, adding that the SAD was forced to make Harsimrat resign from the Union Cabinet in view of the strong opposition to the farm laws.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters while staging a protest along with different organisations of farmers and labourers at Regal Square in Indore, Patkar said, “We are thankful to him (Badal) and salute him. His move of returning the Padma award is a slap on the face of the government.”
“We appeal to leading personalities from different fields to return their government awards to express solidarity with the farmers protesting against the new laws,” the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader said.
“The new laws have given freedom to the corporates to indulge in profiteering and hoarding, and it will also lead to the problem of food security in the country,” she alleged.
Patkar said the Centre should immediately withdraw these new agriculture laws and also frame rules to decide the MSP for forest produce, milk, fish, fruits and vegetables.
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