Back in Punjab, Badals credit Shiromani Akali Dal with making farm bills a national debate
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife Harsimrat address party workers on return to home turf after she quit as Union food processing industry minister to protest the passage of the farm bills last weekUpdated: Sep 24, 2020, 16:50 IST
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday said that the Akali leadership should be credited with making farmers’ rights a national debate by quitting the Narendra Modi cabinet and raising voices against the farm bills in Parliament.
Addressing party supporters at Takht Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, Badal said: “Recent Indian political history has no example where an ally of a Union government has quit a ministerial position for farmers’ rights.”
“I had reiterated several times that the SAD would not hesitate to make any sacrifice if the farming community’s interest is compromised. (Bathinda Lok Sabha MP) Harsimrat Kaur Badal and I spoke bluntly against the farm bills in Parliament. As Akali leaders raised the concerns and reservations of farmers boldly in front of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, they brought the attention of the entire nation towards a sensitive issue touching the lives of farmers,” said Badal, who represents Ferozepur in the Lok Sabha.
Badal and his wife Harsimrat returned to Punjab for the first time after she quit as Union food processing industry minister to protest the passage of the farm bills last week.
The couple paid obeisance at the shrine, associated with the visit of the 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh.
A large number of Akali workers had gathered at the historic gurdwara’s Diwan Hall to listen to their leaders, throwing Covid-19 guidelines to the wind.
SEED SOWN BY CONGRESS: SUKHBIR
The Badals targeted their regional political foes, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party in their respective speeches.
Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the Congress had in its 2017 assembly poll and 2019 general election manifestoes promised to repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act and make trade in agricultural produce, including export and inter-state trade, free of all restrictions.
“Modi only followed but the seeds of these anti-farmer ideas were first mooted by the Congress leadership,” he said.
Appealing to farmers’ cell of the SAD to rope in arthiyas (commission agents) and farm labourers in the ongoing agitation, Badal said that he will lead protest marches against Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and the central government from various districts to Chandigarh on October 1.
“Amarinder should hold a special assembly session immediately to revoke the amended APMC Act of 2017 in Punjab,” he said.
AMARINDER WAS CONSULTED, GAVE APPROVAL: HARSIMRAT
Harsimrat said that Capt Amarinder Singh was among the seven chief ministers who had first started discussing the three farm bills with the Centre in August last year, “but he never expressed any resentment on the issue”.
She showed documents to the gathering, claiming they were official papers that revealed the Punjab government had given its approval to the bills.
“I had written three dissent notes, detailing issues, when the cabinet members were asked for their views in the third week of May. Whenever a central government plans a new bill, it is first discussed with the CMs and top state officials and the matter is tabled before the cabinet much later. Capt Amarinder Singh stands exposed,” she said.
Unlike the ‘consent’ papers of the Punjab CM, Harsimrat did not produce anything to buttress her ‘dissent’ noting claim on the bills. “Anyone can get it through right to information (RTI),” she said from the stage.
DODGE AAP PROTESTERS IN TALWANDI SABO
Earlier, SAD’s political opponents had gathered near the gurdwara to show the Badals black flags but they did not get a chance do so as the Akali leaders opted to take an alternative road route.
Wearing black aprons, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators Baljinder Kaur and Rupinder Kaur were camping near Khanda Chowk at Talwandi Sabo.
Baljinder Kaur said the Akalis have hurt the feelings of the farmers by being part of the NDA government that had passed the farm bills.