Adding his voice, to the political support for the massive farmers protest, which has been going on for the past one month on Delhi’s borders, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has said the Union Government should stop defaming farmers and hold talks with them on ways to repeal its contentious agriculture laws. Badal, on Friday, said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led the Union government was callous and insensitive towards the suffering of farmers and that it almost seemed “that the government wants to punish the farmers for raising their voice against the three agricultural marketing laws which were forced through in the last parliamentary session.” According to Badal, this sarkari stalemate is the reason because the Union has “adopted a policy which is aimed at tiring out the farmers,” the Tribune reported.
Badal said, the “Bogey of talks is being raised with the sole purpose of defaming the farmers and giving the impression that they are being stubborn. The truth is that it is the Centre which is being obstinate by refusing to repeal the three Agriculture acts which are unacceptable to farmers across the country”. According to the news report, Badal asked his former allies, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government not to play with the “sentiments of farmers by extending non-specific talk invitations without any agenda or time frame”.
The Centre’s heartless approach towards resolving farmers’ grievances is appalling! Their peaceful protests over the month on #Delhi border in the bitter cold has failed to move this insensitive govt. Are the #farmers being punished for raising their voices against repression? pic.twitter.com/mQ9YGIlyVH
— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) December 25, 2020
He said the Centre should not defame farmers calling them separatists, and stop victimising the commission agents or arhtiyas, with income tax raids. Badal also asked the Government to call “a special one-day session to repeal the three agricultural laws,” and follow it up with framing new laws in consultation with farmers. “I don’t see any reason to fault this logic. Not doing so will only strengthen the impression that corporate players who stand to gain through enslavement of farmers are coming in the way of a fair settlement to the ongoing farmer agitation,” the news report quoted him.
He asked the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership to have a “humanistic approach” and remind them that “more than 40 farmers have already lost their lives in the last one month. They have been agitating against these measures ever since they were introduced as Ordinances six months back.”
Earlier, this father, 92-year-old former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab’s senior most politician, and once a strong ally of BJP, had announced that he will return his Padma Vibhushan, registering his protest against the government’s “betrayal of farmers”. He had said, “I am who I am because of the people, especially the common farmer. Today when he has lost more than his honour, I see no point in holding on to the Padma Vibhushan honour.” Months ago, there had been a massive gathering of protesting farmers outside the residence of the former Punjab CM in Muktsar district.
Soon after the protests intensified in Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal wrote her letter of resignation as Union Minister of Food Processing Industries. She remains a Member of Parliament.
Farmers protesting against 3 #AntiFarmerLaws since 6 months. For 30 days thousands of families protesting on Delhi border in bitter cold. Over 40 farmers have died. We must respect the hand that feeds the nation. Time for GoI to listen to FARMERS’ #MannKiBaat & repeal these Acts! pic.twitter.com/Tn5jVhs79S
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) December 25, 2020
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) quit as an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, in September 2020. The SAD has made it clear that the party will respond to the mood in Punjab, and will “will oppose the BJP’s anti-farmer policies”. According to the Hindustan Times, then Sukhbir Singh Badal, the MP from Ferozpur, said in Lok Sabha during the debate on the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, that the bills had “many provisions that go against farmers’ interests. We have repeatedly asked the government to please address the apprehensions of farmers, but the government has done nothing. Therefore, I oppose these bills.”