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Congress responsible for farm Bills, says Akali Dal

Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal speaks to media on Agriculture Bill, at the premises of Parliament in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: ANI

A day after Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) quit the government over three agriculture sector Bills, pushed by the NDA government, the party has decided to “expose” the Congress party, which it accused of adopting ‘double-speak’ on the issue.

Also read: President accepts Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s resignation

At meeting of its core committee on Friday, the party discussed the different aspects of the alliance with the NDA, but the focus remained on sorting out the challenges that have currently come to the fore in the backdrop of farm legislations.

Senior party leader Prem Singh Chandumajra told The Hindu, that at the core committee meeting, party members analysed the entire situation in the backdrop of the Ms. Badal resignation.

“All members expressed satisfaction over the decision of Ms. Badal to resign from the government against the farm legislations. We also decided to expose the double speak of the Congress party among the people on the issue,” he said.

Also read: ‘Saddened’ my voice in support of farmers was not heard, says Harsimrat Kaur Badal

Mr. Chandumajra said the ruling Congress government was directly responsible for amending the State APMC Act (Agriculture Produce Marketing Act) in 2017 immediately after coming to power in the State, to include all the provisions of the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce Ordinance 2020.

“Not only, this the Congress government is also party to the passing of the Farming Produce Ordinance as it participated in the consultative process to enable implementation of the Bills. Congress stands completely exposed and we will now tell people about Congress’s double speak,” said Mr. Chandumajra.

Deflecting threat

Responding to speculations surrounding the SAD’s departure from the NDA, Mr. Chandumajra said the Assembly election in Punjab, which is due in 2022, are far away. “Our first priority is to sort out the challenges that have currently come to the fore,”

The focus on the Congress aligned with what senior SAD MP Naresh Gujral told The Hindu, that his party was “mindful of the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation” that the Indian Army was engaged in with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Easter Ladakh and other parts of the border and the fact that Pakistan had been trying to foment trouble in Punjab. “We don’t want unity to suffer at this time,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda, however, kept up the rhetoric on how the three farm bills to which the SAD objected were important reforms in the agricultural sector.

During a video conference to inaugurate the Kosi bridge, Mr Modi said,”Those purporting to protect farmers actually want them to remain shackled with old rules.”

Mr. Shah expressed gratitude to Mr. Modi in getting the Bills passed in the Lok Sabha. Mr. Nadda, releasing a special edition of Kamal Sandesh, BJP’s mouthpiece, on Prime Minister Modi’s 70th birthday, also spoke strongly on the Farm Bills and revolutionary reforms which will be ushered in the agricultural sector.

The SAD soft-peddling on withdrawing from the NDA, and the BJP’s support for the farm Bills does not augur an easy resolution to the issue within the alliance.

The SAD-BJP alliance has been one of the oldest and most durable in the NDA with SAD leader Prakash Singh Badal considered a father figure to many leaders. Mr. Modi touched the senior leader’s feet before filing his nomination papers in Varanasi before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

More importantly, the alliance had been forged keeping in mind the militancy that had taken place in Punjab in the 1980s and early 1990s. The alliance of SAD as a largely rural, orthodox Sikh party, and the BJP that counts Hindutva as an ideological base would, it was hoped bring together social harmony among religious orthodoxies, which it did. The farm Bills have hurt the SAD’s rural interest, and it is to be seen how it is reconciled with political interests of the BJP.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 2:53:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/akali-dal-walks-tight-rope-on-ties-with-bjp-amid-farmers-protests/article32643816.ece

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