Senior SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur, a day after resigning from Union Cabinet in protest against farm bills that was passed in the Lok Sabha, on Friday said that she is “saddened” that her voice in support of farmers was not heard. She further demanded that the government should pause on these legislations by referring them to a parliamentary panel for wider consultations.
“I left my mother in ICU in the hospital to fulfill my duty to attend Parliament debate on these three legislations and register my protest. Thereafter I resigned in protest against these proposed legislations,” Badal was quoted by PTI as saying.
“I feel very saddened about the fact that my voice was not heard in the Cabinet and the government did not send it to a parliamentary select committee for consultations with all stakeholders including farmers. If my voice had been heard, farmers would not have come out on roads to protest,” she said.
Harsimrat’s submitted her resignation soon after her husband and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal strongly opposed the bills in Lok Sabha. Sukhbir Singh claimed that the proposed legislations will “destroy” the agriculture sector in Punjab.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who first became Union Minister for Food Processing in 2014 and retained the portfolio in the second term of the BJP-led NDA government starting 2019, said she kept on pleading with the government not to move ahead with these bills without taking farmers on board.
SAD voted against the three bills — Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, which were passed by voice vote in Lok Sabha.
Congress and several other opposition parties are also opposing these bills, while SAD is the only NDA member to come out against these proposed legislations that seek to replace the ordinances already promulgated by the government.
“I kept on protesting ever since these ordinances were circulated for comments in the Cabinet. I was acting like a bridge between farmers and the government to clear all doubts and fears of farmers. I kept on pleading that the government should not bring these bills until all apprehensions and fears of farmers are cleared,” she said.
She said there is no point in bringing these bills while presenting them as being in the interest of farmers when the farmers themselves have apprehensions about these measures.
On her resignation, Harsimrat said, “Please don’t see this as a resignation, as this was my duty as a representative of Punjab and of farmers.”
On Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh calling her resignation a “drama”, hitting back at him she said, “He himself is the biggest drama and the biggest liar.”
“Amarinder Singh and Congress are doing double-speak. When these ordinances were planned, all chief ministers were consulted and he had concurred. Also, these three bills were part of the Congress party’s manifesto for the 2017 assembly elections manifesto and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” she said.