Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday said that the three new agricultural laws that were passed in the Parliament on September 20 may have severe implications on the national economy, reported NDTV.
Badal’s comments came a day after the Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday evening gave his assent to the three farm bills that were passed amid scenes of pandemonium last week.
“The farmers’ economic plight affects the entire economy,” Badal said at a gathering of party workers and farmers at Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Phagwara in Punjab. “Anything like the new farm bills [now Act], which increases the uncertainty about the fate of farmers’ produce can have disastrous implication for the economy and social stability of the country. Therefore, what we are fighting for is to protect the country’s wider national interests.”
The SAD chief said that they are ready to join or follow any struggle that work towards farmers’ rights, according to The Tribune. Badal also reasserted the party’s firm commitment for peace and communal harmony in Punjab.
“We must not flinch from the ideals of keeping our struggle for people’s rights absolutely peaceful and democratic,” Badal said. “I must caution against attempts to defame our struggle for people.”
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Punjab unit chief Ashwani Sharma on Sunday said the SAD’s reasons for breaking off ties with the NDA were “very surprising”, reported PTI. Sharma also expressed sadness over the party’s decision.
“The BJP has always given respect to every party associated with the NDA,” he said during a media briefing. “But the SAD is a political party and they chose another line. Surely, I felt sad as they were the oldest ally. But the two reasons they [Akalis] gave [for snapping ties] were very surprising.”
He also asserted that the Narendra Modi-led administration had taken several measures for the farming community. Sharma highlighted that the BJP-led Centre had given Rs 6,000 to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
On the row over the farm bills, Sharma said that Modi had assured the minimum support price system will remain and that the government would keep purchasing from farmers. Separately, the BJP leader said the SAD had raised the matter of not including Punjabi as a language in Jammu and Kashmir.
The controversial farm bills
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill were cleared by the Parliament amid protests from the Opposition.
Critics say that these new agricultural policies will lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations. Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. On Saturday, the Congress ran a social media campaign “Speak Up for Farmers”, where the party leaders criticised the Narendra Modi government and posted videos showing their support for the farmers.