News

Harsimrat Kaur quits govt as LS passes farm Bills

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on September 17, 2020 Published on September 17, 2020

Harsimrat Kaur Badal

Says proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two contentious agriculture related Bills even as Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who represented Shiromani Akali Dal, the ruling BJP’s oldest ally, in the Union Cabinet resigned protesting against the decision to move the Bills by the government.

While the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020 allows farm produce to be traded outside Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee mandis, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020 seeks to facilitate contract farming.

Earlier in the day, SAD sent shockwaves as Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against the Bills brought in the Lok Sabha to replace the related ordinances.

Continue to support

While the Akalis would continue to support the government, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal responded to the Opposition Congress’ charge that they were shedding “crocodile tears” by getting Harsimrat Kaur Badal to quit the Union Cabinet while he asserted in the Lok Sabha that his party will not stand with the “anti-farmer” Bills that were introduced and passed in the House.

 

“I have resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister,” said Harsimrat Badal while announcing her resignation.

The Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar highlighted the enhanced Budget provisions and the PM-Kisan figures to underline the government’s commitment to the welfare of the farmers, while piloting 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 Bills. Lok Sabha has already passed a bill to amend the Essential Commodities Act.

 

Even as street protests by farmers raged in Punjab and Haryana, the proposed laws replaced the three ordinances brought by the Centre in June.

While Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused the Government of endangering food security and bringing in “corporate zamindars”, the Agriculture Minister sought to assure farmers that the Bills are neither a precursor to abolishing MSPs, a concern highlighted by several MPs in the Lok Sabha, nor were they aimed at demolishing the farmers’ markets under various Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts.

“The MSP regime has continued and will continue. Unlike the UPA, we have proceeded along the MS Swaminathan Committee report and given enhanced MSPs… These reforms should not surprise anyone. On April 9, 2005, the then PM Manmohan Singh had told the Agriculture Summit that there should be a common single market for agriculture produce. This is not new. We are enabling farmers; not disabling them and there should be no political propaganda with this,” said the Agriculture Minister, while quoting from the Congress manifesto to underline that Congress had proposed the same agriculture reforms.

SAD’s whip

Meanwhile, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal issued a whip to its MPs to vote against the bills and asserted on the floor of the House that the Akalis cannot be seen standing with laws that are “anti farmer”. Congress MPs from Punjab, where farmers have warned both Badal and the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that they would not be allowed to enter their villages if these bills become laws, said Badals allowed these ordinances to be promulgated and are now distancing themselves because there are protests on the streets.

Badal countered these allegations by asserting that the Akalis have opposed the ordinances as well as the related bills.

“The three farmers’ bills are in the name of farmers. Punjab is the heart of the farmers. More than 20 lakh farmers are going to be affected, more than 38 lakh adhtias are going to be affected. After independence, every state made its own APMC Act. Successive governments in Punjab built agriculture infrastructure because it was the need of the country. It is because of Punjab that we became self sufficient in terms of our food stocks. Punjab Mandikaran Act is the best in the world.

 

“For 12,000 villages in Punjab, there are 1,900 mandis, for every 6 villages, there is a mandi. Every mandi has a link road. But our 50 years’ tapasya is being destroyed. Corporate monopolies will prevail. We need to save the agriculture of Punjab. SAD has never done any U-turn. Our Minister Harsimrat Kaur raised the issue and said there are apprehensions. We wrote to the Agriculture Minister. We cannot be standing with a bill which is against the farmer,” Sukhbir Singh Badal said in the Lok Sabha.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on September 17, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor