Shiromani Akali Dal, the main component of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the Center, voted against a controversial farm bill passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Three orders related to the farm sector were cleared by the Union cabinet recently and the respective bills were presented in Lok Sabha on Monday. One of them – the Essential Goods Bill (Amendment) 2020 – was taken up for discussion and passed by a majority vote.
Participating in the debate, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal described the bills as anti-farmers and said the Center never consulted with his party before the ordinances were drafted. “Even when the ordinances were being discussed in the cabinet, my wife and Union Food Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had raised objections and conveyed the concerns of the farmers. “She had asked for the ordinance to be postponed, but her voice was not heard,” Sukhbir said, adding that Punjab would be the state most affected by the legislation.
Underlining that he himself comes from an agricultural family, Sukhbir, in an emotional speech, said: “Every Akali is a farmer and every farmer is an Akali in the heart. The SAD has always supported the issue of farmers. “The party’s legacy cannot and will not be compromised or diluted, no matter what price we have to pay,” he said, speaking in Punjabi. SAD’s tough stance is seen as a sign of a rift in its over two decades-old alliance with BJP.
Farmers in many states, including Punjab and Haryana, have protested against these bills. Sukhbir said all MPs of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party from Punjab abstained from voting.
Responding to the debate, State Minister for Consumer Affairs Raosaheb Patil Danve said the change aims to transform the farm sector and increase farmers’ incomes. (with agency inputs)
DO T MO L MONDSI GJKKATS: AMARINDER
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said the state Congress will challenge the Essential Goods Act (Amendment) 2020 in court.
He described the legislation as “a direct and deliberate attack” by the Center on farmers’ interests. Riding on farmers’ concerns, the Modi government has imposed a central law on a state entity, thus “eroding” the country’s federal structure, the CM said. “We will challenge him in court,” he said in a statement.
Amarinder said the passage of the legislation is a step towards “lifting” the MSP regime (minimum support price). “It is a conspiracy by the BJP-led NDA government to destroy Punjab and its farmers,” he claimed, and stated that Congress would fight this “attack” on the interests of the toothed state.
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