A delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday and asked him not to give his assent to the farm bills passed by Parliament, the Hindustan Times reported. The Lok Sabha has already passed all three bills, while the Upper House cleared two amid protests on Sunday.
“A delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal met the President and requested him not to sign on ‘anti-farmer’ bills that have been forcefully passed in Rajya Sabha,” the party’s chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said, according to ANI. “We requested him to send back the bills to Parliament.”
On Sunday, Badal had said that the passage of bills was a “sad day” for democracy and millions of people in the country. “Urging President of India not to sign the Bills on farm issues and return them to #Parliament for reconsideration,” he tweeted. “Please intervene on behalf of farmers, labourers, mandi labour and Dalits, or they will never forgive us. Democracy means consensus, not majority oppression. A sad day for democracy indeed if it leads to ‘annadata’ starving or sleep on roads.”
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. “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.
Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is also from the party, had resigned from her position last week 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. The bill could not be passed on Monday either due to pandemonium in the Upper House. 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.