Lok Sabha clears contentious farm bill, SAD votes against it – chandigarh
Shiromani Akali Dal, the key constituent of the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, voted against a contentious farm bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Three farm sector-related ordinances were cleared by the Union cabinet recently and the corresponding bills were tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday. One of them — the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 — was taken up for a discussion and passed by a voice vote.
Participating in the debate, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal described the bills as anti-farmer and said that the Centre never consulted his party before the ordinances were framed. “Even when the ordinances were being discussed in the cabinet, my wife and Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had raised objections and conveyed the concerns of farmers. She had requested the ordinance be put off, but her voice was not heeded to,” Sukhbir said, adding that Punjab will be the worst-affected state by these legislations.
Underlining that he himself hails from a farming family, Sukhbir, in an emotive speech, said: “Every Akali is a farmer and every farmer is an Akali at heart. The SAD has always championed farmers’ cause.” “The party’s legacy cannot and will not be compromised or diluted, no matter what price we have to pay,” he said, speaking in Punjabi. The SAD’s strident stand is seen as a sign of fissure in its over two-decade-old alliance with the BJP.
Farmers in many states, including Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against these bills. Sukhbir said all Congress and Aam Aadmi Party MPs from Punjab abstained from voting.
Responding to the debate, minister of state for consumer affairs Raosaheb Patil Danve said the amendment is aimed at transforming the farm sector and raising farmers’ income. (with agency inputs)
WILL MOVE COURT: AMARINDER
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said the state Congress will challenge the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 in the court.
He described the legislation “a direct and deliberate assault” by the Centre on the farmers’ interests. Riding roughshod over the farmers’ concerns, the Modi government has imposed a central law on a state subject, thus “eroding” the federal structure of the country, said the CM. “We will challenge it in court,” he said in a statement .
Amarinder said the enactment of the legislation is a step towards the “abolition” of the MSP (minimum support price) regime. “It is a conspiracy on the part of the BJP-led NDA government to destroy Punjab and its farmers,” he alleged and declared that the Congress will fight this “attack” on the state’s interests tooth and nail.