Shiromani Akali Dal Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral on Sunday said that the party will make a decision on the future of its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party within a week, The Economic Times reported. The BJP’s Punjab ally has opposed the three farm bills, two of which were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.
“We have sought feedback from our cadre over the next 4-5 days and will call a meeting of the party’s core committee soon after to take a call on the SAD-BJP alliance,” Gujral told the newspaper. “We are a cadre-based farmer party.”
Gujral said that he had warned the Centre against making a hurried decision on the bills. He said that the bills should have been sent to a select committee for consideration. “But the government was in a tearing hurry,” he said. “Today [Sunday], the way the bill was passed, a very wrong message has been sent everywhere. I warned the government in Parliament not to fan the fire and underestimate the anger of farmers. We are unable to understand why the government was being so obstinate to ‘benefit’ farmers… who say they will not be benefited. There is a trust deficit.”
Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal had opposed the bills in the Lok Sabha, amid protests by farmers in Punjab. The party had also issued a whip to its Rajya Sabha members to oppose the bills. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is also from the party, had resigned from her position on Thursday in connection with the laws.
The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed the Farmers’ and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 by a voice vote, during a prolonged outpouring of anger by the opposition parties. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the third ordinance, which is part of the Centre’s farm liberalisation policies, could not be taken up due to time constraints before the House was adjourned for the day. All the three laws sailed through the Lok Sabha on Friday.
Farmers and traders have been vehemently opposing the new bills, alleging the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They also fear that the bills would bring about corporate dominance in agriculture.