The Shiv Sena on Saturday alleged that the Narendra Modi government was moving towards privatisation of airports, railways, harbours, insurance groups and also giving control of farmers’ lives to private players. The party was referring to the farm bills controversy.
“The government was, on one hand, pushing the country towards privatisation of Air India, airports, harbours and insurance companies and on the other handing over the lives of farmers to the hands of traders and private players,” the party said in an editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana. “The Modi government’s economic, business and agriculture-related policies are raising doubts.”
Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur, a member of the National Democratic Alliance ally Shiromani Akali Dal, has resigned in view of these matters, the party said, adding that the Centre introduced the agriculture bills without consulting states, its allies, farmers’ organisations or the Opposition parties.
“The Modi government brought two anti-farmers bills [in Parliament] and she [Harsimrat Kaur Badal] resigned in protest,” the editorial said. “Her resignation has been accepted. The Shiv Sena has already walked out of the NDA and now comes the Shiromani Akali Dal’s move.”
Farmers and Opposition parties have been protesting against three bills in Parliament. The Centre had introduced the Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on Monday. The first two bills were passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The third one was passed on Tuesday. They will be taken up on Sunday for discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
The editorial said the National Democratic Alliance during the time of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior Bharatiya Janata Party LK Advani was “different” as they used to treat their constituents with respect and consult them. “Vajpayee and Advani used to behave with its allies in a respectful, trustworthy and affectionate manner,” the Shiv Sena said. “Many times, they would seek the advice of the chiefs of its allies or at least discuss matters of national importance. In those times, spoken words had value. This is why the 30-32 member family was working properly.”
The Shiv Sena said Maharashtra and Punjab are both dependent on agriculture, adding that the BJP should have consulted at least the farmers and experts across the country before passing the bills that seek to replace ordinances issued in June.
“The government says that the new system would benefit farmers,” the editorial said. “Even if one believes it to be true, what was the harm in holding consultations with a few leading farmer leaders in the country? It should have at least held talks with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.” However, the ruling government has nothing to do with the words ‘dialogue’ or ‘consultation’, it said.
Several farmers’ outfits have continued to protests against the bills since last week. The bills seek to include private players in agriculture and promote hurdle-free sale of produce, but the farmers argue that they will bring about corporate dominance.
On Thursday, Punjab farmers announced that they will stage a three-day rail roko agitation from September 24 to September 26 to protest against the three bills. The call for the demonstration was given by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh. Other farmers’ organisations in Punjab have already given a call for a bandh on September 25 in protest against the bills.