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Home / India News / ‘Govt didn’t talk to us, it should consult farmers’: Sukhbir Singh Badal

‘Govt didn’t talk to us, it should consult farmers’: Sukhbir Singh Badal

Sukhbir Singh Badal says he feels that the government should talk to the farmers. There’s no point of putting ministers on TV giving clarifications.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2020, 04:05 IST
Sunetra Choudhury
Sunetra Choudhury
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sukhbir Singh Badal said outside {Parliament}, rights of farmers {are} being bulldozed, inside rights of MPs {are} being bulldozed.
Sukhbir Singh Badal said outside {Parliament}, rights of farmers {are} being bulldozed, inside rights of MPs {are} being bulldozed.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, whose wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as the food processing industries minister to protest contentious farm bills, speaks to Sunetra Choudhury about SAD’s resistance to the bill. Edited excerpts:

You are about to go and see the President to request him not sign the farm bills. Isn’t it a bit late now?

We have to try our best to stop it. The bill doesn’t become an Act till the President signs it. We are representing the farmers and on their behalf we are requesting the President, please reconsider signing the bill. Please send it back to Parliament and let it be properly debated there... There was no voting, it was just bulldozing of the bills taking place over there [in Rajya Sabha].

We’ve seen some extraordinary scenes in parliament this morning too. What do you make of it?

I feel that the government should talk to the farmers. There’s no point of putting ministers on TV giving clarifications. The same ministers should be deputed to meet the farmers and listen to them...

Do you think there is a problem with the bills or is there just a lack of communicating the benefits of the legislation, which is cutting out the middleman?

Whether you make it private or not, middlemen will stay. You think {Mukesh} Ambani or {Gautam} Adani will go directly to the farms and buy it {farm produce}? Obviously they will have their layer of middlemen. Secondly, the mandi system as it exists is such that anyone can come and buy from there... Farmers feel that big corporate houses will take them over. They {government} say farmers can take legal recourse...You can’t make a farmer fight a big corporate house... They are poor people who want a sense of security which they get from the government mandi system...I feel the arguments are being made without consulting stakeholders. We are part of the NDA, they could have at least consulted us.

They didn’t consult you?

We were never told. We got to know about the ordinance when it came to the cabinet. There itself she {Harsimrat Kaur Badal} said, please do not pass it as from the look of it, they {farmers} are going to have issues with it. But they passed it, saying we’ve got three months till the Act comes, we will talk to them...

So when the govt said MSPs will remain and that APMCs will continue, isn’t the assurance satisfactory?

They have curtailed government APMC’s jurisdiction to 5-7 acres. They said parallel to the APMC, private people can open the mandis on their own, they will not have to pay tax. Government mandis charge 7-8% tax ... Basically, they {corporate houses} have been given tax-free incentives to buy.

What about the way the bills were passed by a voice vote?

Outside {Parliament}, rights of farmers {are} being bulldozed, inside rights of MPs {are} being bulldozed.

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