The Shiromani Akal Dal, a constituent of the NDA, Sunday urged President Ram Nath Kovind not to give his assent to the farm Bills passed by Rajya Sabha, asking him to return them to Parliament for reconsideration.
“Democracy is not about majoritarian oppression but about consultation, conciliation and consensus. All three democratic virtues were ignored in today’s proceedings. This distortion can only be corrected with a Presidential intervention,” SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a plea to the President.
“Please stand by the beleaguered and toiling farmers, farm labour, mandi labour and Dalits in their hour of need. They are facing exploitation and look up to you to exercise your discretion as the highest executive in the country and come to their rescue by not signing these Bills so that they do not acquire the finality of an Act, ” he said adding that, “failing this, the poor and the beleaguered classes and their future generations will never forgive us.”
The Rajya Sabha earlier in the day passed by voice vote the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The Bills have already been passed by Lok Sabha and will now go to the President for his assent before they are notified as laws.
The third Bill — Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 — could not be taken up as the Upper House was adjourned for the day amid chaotic scenes.
Terming the passage of the Bills as a “sad day” for democracy and millions in the country, Sukhbir requested the President to “grant a personal audience to a delegation of senior leaders of his party all of whom are farmers.”
“Don’t let the ‘annadata’ (farmers) starve or sleep on the roads,” he said urging the President to return the Bills to the Parliament for reconsideration so that the “hasty decisions taken in a fleeting moment of overzealous stubbornness do not leave permanent scars on the nation’s psyche nor inflict a deep wound on the long-term vital interests of the farmers, the farm and mandi labour and dalits”.
“There is still time to reconsider this decision and undo the damage it threatens to cause to our overall national interests, especially at this critical juncture when the country’s economy requires social stability, peace and harmony to recover from the traumatic after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The Constitution gives the President the power to withhold assent to certain categories of bills passed by Parliament.
Sukhbir said the founding fathers had made this constitutional provision after thorough consideration of all aspects. The President can ask Parliament to reconsider its decision in absence of a national consensus on any decision of the government, he said.
“There was never a greater urgency for the President of India to exercise that discretion than there is today as the present legislations put a question mark on the present and the future of over 80 per cent of the country’s population directly and of the remaining 20 per cent indirectly. This is the fittest case for the President to exercise his superior wisdom and ask the two Houses of the Parliament to reconsider these bills. This is so vital in the overall national interest,” said Sukhbir.
Earlier, SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the union cabinet in protest against the Bills, a move described as “bold, historic and principled stand” by party stalwart and five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
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