BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) comes out strongly against agricultural ordinances promulgated by Centre

SAD president and former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal said the NDA government did not consult the party before taking the decision on the ordinances

Photo Courtesy: ANI
Photo Courtesy: ANI

Bipin Bhardwaj

Aiming to win over the farmer community in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), the alliance partner of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has opposed the three agricultural ordinances promulgated by the Union government.

SAD president and former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal said the NDA government did not consult the party before taking the decision on the ordinances.

BJP’s ally in Haryana, Jannayak Janata Party’s founder and Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala is, meanwhile, maintaining a studied silence on the burning issue.

Meanwhile, farmers in Punjab and Haryana continue to lay siege to various national and state highways in both the states demanding a rollback of the decision. The agitating farmers and farmers unions including aahrtiyas blocked the Bathinda-Amritsar National Highway, Delhi-Amritsar highway at Rajpura and Khanna, Chandigarh-Amritsar highway at Ropar, Jalandha and Beas besides many other main roads across the state.

Farmers under the aegis of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) took out a march in Badal village and laid siege to the residence of Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday. "The Centre is forcing the farmers to become slaves to multinational companies. Let’s unite and speak up, once and for all. There’s no looking back for us now," said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary, BKU (Lakhowal)

Ashwani Kumar, president of Punjab BJP, however, contended that the decision was taken by the Union government to benefit the farmer. “The BJP is committed to safeguarding the economic interests of the farmers and will never abolish the minimum support price (MSP) regime,” he claimed, adding that the party national president JP Nadda has already clarified about the issue in detail.

Asked if the opposition to the ordinances by SAD president Sukhbir Badal, which is BJP’s ally at the Centre and in Punjab, will sour their political ties in Punjab, he said he had nothing to say on this issue as yet. “It’s unfortunate that the Opposition parties are misleading the farmers by spreading rumours that the ordinances on agriculture will do away with the MSP,” he said.

Opposing the ordinances tooth and nail, Punjab Chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Wednesday led a delegation of party leaders to Punjab Raj Bhawan and submitted a memorandum to Governor VP Singh Badnore seeking his intervention for not taking up the Bills by the Centre in Parliament.

Accompanied by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and other members of the delegation, the Chief Minister told the Governor that the party felt that any move to tinker with the present procurement system, and that too in the times of a nationwide crisis, may deepen social unrest amongst the farmers in the state. “It may not be conducive for the peace and development of the region, which faces serious challenges of public order due to a live international border,” he stressed.

Badal, while talking to media persons in Delhi on Tuesday, had said, "The government should have consulted parties like the SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) which is a party of farmers and the poor before bringing ordinances. We were not asked about this ordinance. When the ordinances were tabled in the Cabinet, our representative in the Cabinet raised queries. These ordinances are affecting Punjab the most. Farmers of Punjab did not get their answers."

While the party had earlier supported the Centre's decision, the change in position came after a meeting of the Akali Dal's core committee last Saturday, when the party appealed to the Centre not to present the three ordinances for approval in Parliament until the reservations of farmers are addressed, he added.

The Akali Dal on Tuesday also opposed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020, saying that as a party of the farmers, it cannot support anything which goes against the interest of the "annadaata (food provider)" in the country, especially in Punjab.

In Lok Sabha, Sukhbir Singh Badal said, "SAD is essentially an organisation of farmers. Every Akali is a farmer and every farmer is an Akali at heart. The party has always championed the cause of the farmers and has made supreme sacrifices to safeguard their interests. That legacy cannot and will not be compromised or diluted, no matter what price we have to pay,"

Sources revealed that on Monday, Sukhbir Singh Badal along with other senior Akali leaders had met JJP leader Dushyant Chautala and leaders of farmers’ unions from Uttar Pradesh in Delhi seeking their support to oppose the ordinances.

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