The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fails to stop Harsimrat Kaur Badal from exiting the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, even as it had roped in its key strategists to prevent the exit of the lone Akali Dal minister. This is the first resignation in Modi government 2.0.
Harsimrat Kaur, who was the Minister for Food Processing, belongs to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — one of the oldest constituents of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
In a tweet, she said: “I have resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister.”
She called the agriculture-related bills introduced in the Monsoon Session of Parliament “anti-farmer”.
Harsimrat Kaur, in her resignation submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, described her party and farmers as synonymous with each other, and that it could not compromise on the interests of farmers.
Even as the BJP was constantly trying to convince Harsimrat Kaur and the SAD, it did not succeed.
In a press conference on Wednesday, BJP President J.P. Nadda had said that the party had held talks with the SAD over the agriculture-related bills and that confusion is being spread over the bills.
He also said that party is in talks with its ally and all the confusion would be cleared.
However, on Thursday, Harsimrat Kaur walked out of the cabinet as the bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The SAD was opposing all three bills related to agricultural reforms right from the beginning. Its Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Naresh Gujral on Wednesday had directed the party MPs to vote against them.
BJP sources said that talks were on between the party strategists and the SAD over the issue, and that the party had engaged a leader of its Punjab unit for negotiations along with its ally.
The BJP hoped that through negotiations, it would convince the SAD to vote in favour of the agricultural bills.
Amid widespread protests by farmers in various states against the three farm Bills presented in the Lok Sabha three days ago, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar clarified that these Bills will bring revolutionary changes in the lives of farmers. He asserted “MSP was, MSP is, and MSP will continue in the future”.
Tomar said this while moving the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 as well as the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in the Lok Sabha for passage on Thursday. Both the Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Day 1 of the Monsoon Session on Monday.
These bills will replace the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 promulgated by the President on June 5.
Farmers in Punjab, Haryana and several other states are on the roads to protest against these Bills and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which was also moved by the government in the Lower House on Monday.
Explaining about the benefits of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 as well as the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, Tomar said both the legislations will fulfil the expectations and the need of the country from agriculture. Besides, the Minister said, the farmer will get attracted towards comparatively good crops, and if the farmer produces costly crops his income will automatically increase and he will also support agriculture growth.
“These Bills will also help in agriculture export.” Tomar said around 86 per cent are small farmers. “If these farmers manage to know the fixed price of their produce in advance through any law they will be able to do profit farming.”
The Minister asserted that “these bills will not affect the Minimum Support Price (MSP)” and that these will help in making the farmers more advanced. “MSP was, MSP is, and MSP will continue in the future.”
Tomar said through both these reforms, the farmer will connect directly with the big traders and exporters, bringing profit to agriculture. “These bills will bring revolutionary changes in the lives of farmers.”
Noting that agriculture plays a major role in the Indian economy, the Minister said the agriculture sector has been availing benefits of the schemes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but some legal changes are necessary.
The Minister said these Bills will bring “freedom in the field of agriculture”.
“So far we were thinking that farmers are bound to the Mandis for their products. But farmers will get freedom with the help of these Bills,” he said.
He also clarified that these Bills do not affect the State APMC Act. “APMC will be in the state but there will be inter-state trade outside its periphery and the farmers will be able to sell their produce from their field, home and any place after the legislation comes into existence.”
Keeping in view the importance of agriculture, the state has enacted the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Acts to develop market-yard as market place and to provide regulation on marketing practices of notified agricultural produce. (IANS)