Failed to convince govt about farmers’ grouse: Harsimrat Kaur Badal
I could not make my Cabinet colleagues understand that my apprehensions related to the farm bills were different from those in other parts of the country, Badal said.Updated: Sep 19, 2020, 04:35 IST
Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned from the Narendra Modi Cabinet on Thursday in protest against three farm bills, spoke to
What does your resignation from the Union Cabinet really mean for the alliance between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party?
These are matters concerning the party high-ups and the core committee. I can only say that alliance is intact and I have moved out the government because I failed to convince my Cabinet colleagues over a very sensitive issue concerning my state.
Did you ever expect that the matter will reach a flashpoint and you will quit?
I’ve been very fortunate that I was a part of the Modi Cabinet for six years. We took several historic decisions in favour of Punjab and its people, such as the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, the elimination of the black list, waiver of GST on langar, allowing foreign donations for Darbar Sahib, road infrastructure, IIM, and much more. I can name a multitude of things, and for that, I am really grateful to the Prime Minister. But I think I failed to convince the government about the farmers’ grouse on the farm ordinances. When I realised that because of sheer numbers, these ordinances will be passed. I decided to stand with the farmers of my state, as they were petrified because their future is at stake due these ordinances.
Why did you fail to convince the government of which you were a part?
I could not make my Cabinet colleagues understand that my apprehensions related to the farm bills were different from those in other parts of the country. In Punjab, middlemen, or arhtiyas, play a key role in the procurement which may not be a case in other states. I took up their issue at every level and at every forum I could, but I couldn’t convince them, so, I took onus on myself. Also, I think I was probably the lone voice who came from a 100% agrarian state. The officers who made the ordinances were unable to see Punjab differently from rest of the country.
What is next course of action for you?
My party will decide that. I will stand with the farmers shoulder to shoulder and do whatever needs to be done to get them justice.
Do you plan to join them in protests?
If required, Yes.
Your opponents say that the SAD has changed its position after it had fallen into a trap by supporting the ordinances.
It doesn’t matter what my opponents say. They need to first answer why they got the APMC Act amended in Punjab. Why, in 2017 and 2019, the Congress manifesto promised laws similar to the ordinances? Why the doublespeak? They opposed in Parliament and implemented in Punjab... the corrupt Congress government can’t raise aspersions on us.
What role do you see for yourself in Punjab when the state is 18 months away from the state polls in 2022?
I will play an active role that my party gives me.