Updated: September 17, 2020 11:39:20 pm
Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as Union Minister of Food Processing Industries in protest over the farm bills that the Centre has 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 the bills would end the assured minimum support price regime for agriculture produce.
“I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister,” the SAD leader tweeted.
In his speech during a discussion on two of the farm bills, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the proposed laws would “destroy” the 50 years of hard work done by successive Punjab governments to build the farm sector. “I announce that Harsimrat Kaur Badal will resign from the government,” he said.
I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter & sister.
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) September 17, 2020
Reacting to the development, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh called Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s decision to quit the Union Cabinet nothing more than a “gimmick to befool the farmers of Punjab”.
Questioning SAD’s decision to continue to remain a part of the BJP-led NDA coalition at the Centre, Singh said, “The only reason for the SAD’s decision to pull their sole minister out of the Union Cabinet was motivated not by any concern for the farmers but to save their political fortunes, and the fizzling political careers of the Badals, who had lost all credibility in the eyes of Punjab’s people.”
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.
Harsimrat and her husband Sukhbir are the only two Lok Sabha MPs from the Akali Dal. 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.
On Tuesday, Sukhbir, the MP from Ferozepur, voted against the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha, saying the proposed legislation is against the interests of farmers. It was passed by Parliament.
In a U-turn earlier this week, Sukhbir Badal said his party was not kept in the loop by BJP while introducing the controversial farm ordinances. Earlier, SAD had been defending ordinances strongly, saying that these will have no bearing on existing procurement policy and that Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime for farm produce would continue.
Reacting to Harsimrat’s resignation, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh said it 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”.
With the resignation of Harsimrat on the issue, SAD would aim at consolidating its stronghold in peasantry, while attempting to stage a comeback in the state polls. Punjab goes to polls in early quarter of 2022. Badal, who made her political debut in the 2009 general elections by winning from Bhatinda constituency, also served as food processing minister in the previous Modi cabinet.
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