New Delhi, Sep 17: Akali Dal leader and Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Thursday resigned from Union Cabinet on the government decision to bring farmer ordinances and legislation in Parliament.
‘I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation,’ Ms Badal said in her tweet.
She said she was ‘proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister’.
The resignation by Harsimrat Kaur Badal came after the Akali Dal faced heat from farmers in Punjab over its initial support to ally BJP’s farm sector bills.
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 were taken up in the Lok Sabha today for consideration and passing.
The minister, who was part of the cabinet meet that cleared it, resigned shortly before the voting on the bills in the Lok Sabha.
Shiromani Akali Dal opposed the agriculture bills in the Lok Sabha on Thursday and said farmers are going to be affected adversely if the draft laws are passed.
During the discussion on two bills — 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 — SAD member Sukhbir Badal said Punjab has spent its last 50 years to develop State’s agriculture condition.
He said the Bill will allow corporate and private companies to interfere in this, which the Akali Dal will never allow.
The Akali Dal had earlier supported the Centre’s decision but then claimed that it had not been consulted on the bills.
With the BJP deciding to push through the bills, the Akalis decided to withdraw support and vote against the bills in parliament today.
On her being part of the Cabinet meeting that cleared the far ordinances, Harsimrat Kaur said her ministry opposed the proposal during the inter-ministerial consultation too.
Badal said that Punjab is the heart of the country’s farming. ‘A total 50 per cent of the grain yield is produced in Punjab. Hence the opposition of the farmers of Punjab represents the opposition of the farmers of the country,’ he said.
He said in the last 50 years the state has developed an excellent agricultural network.
‘The state has 12 thousand villages and 1,900 mandis. There is a mandi in every six villages. Hundred per cent of the farms are irrigated. This is the reason that there may be drought in other states of the country, there is no drought in Punjab,’ Mr Badal said.
Sukhbir Badal said the Akalis will continue to support the government from outside but oppose “anti-farmer policies”.
The bills, touted by the BJP as ‘a big ticket reform in the agri sector ‘, have evoked protests from farmers of Punjab and Haryana. The government said the bills, which would replace the three ordinances issued in June, will help farmers across the country get a better market and price for their produce.
Congress leader and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Harsimrat Kaur’s resignation was “too little too late” and termed it as ‘a gimmick to fool the farmers of Punjab’.
He questioned the Akali Dal’s decision to continue to remain a part of the ruling NDA.