Harsimrat Badal Quits Union Govt; “Resignation too Late”- Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti

Harsimrat Kaur Badal

On Thursday, September 17th, Shiromani Akali Dal’s leader and Cabinet Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Government. This was in protest the controversial “anti-farmer” agricultural legislations and was supported by SAD. However, according to Sarwan Singh Pandher, General Secretary of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, the resignation is “too late” and only a tactic to quell the farmers’ anger. Sukhbir Singh Badal also stated that the party will have to review its ties with BJP.

The Lok Sabha had passed two controversial legislations: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The government claims that these reforms will accelerate agricultural growth by increasing private sector investment. However, farmers fear that the increased freedom given to the private sector will also increase exploitation from corporates.

While the move may be a good move for agriculture, farmers fear they will no longer get paid at MSP, and commission agents fear they’ll lose commission. Punjab has atleast 12 lakh farming families and 28,000 registered commission agents. Moreover, easing regulation of food items could undermine food security as exporters, processors and traders could hoard farm produce during the harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and release it later when prices increases. 

Harinder Singh, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union Lakhowal, described the three agriculture bills as being worse than coronavirus. He stated that if they are implemented, farmers, jobbers, and agricultural laborers will be badly affected.

In her letter of resignation, SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal stated:

“In view of the decision of the government of India to go ahead with the Bill on the issue of marketing of agricultural produce without addressing and removing the apprehensions of farmers and decision of my party, Shiromani Akali Dal, not to be a part of anything that goes against the interest of farmers, I find it impossible to continue to perform my duties as a minister in the union council of ministers.”

Badal said that this decision symbolises the party’s vision and legacy of “safeguarding interests of farmers”, but farmers, as well as unions, seem to be skeptical and unaffected by the impact it would have on them.

On the 18th, despite the resignation, in Chandigarh, a 60 year old farmer attempted suicide at a protest site in Badal village by consuming poisonous substances, where the Badal family are active. He had feared that the bill would be against farmers and is now in critical condition.
 

Meanwhile, farmers’ organisations claim that this resignation came too late. Punjab’s Kisan Manjadur Sangharsh Samiti general secretary Sarvan Singh Pandher has said that Harsimrat’s resignation is a move on the Akali Dal’s part to calm the anger of the people. He continued, “If Sukhbir Singh Badal accepts the farmers’ problem in the true sense, then he should surround the Parliament with his millions of workers.” Instead, he says that the movement against this bill will be led by them. Pandher said that the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh have decided to hold a ‘rail roko’ agitation from September 24 to 26 in the state against the farm bills.

Also Read:‘Save India’ on Quit India Day: Nationwide Farmers, Trade Unions protests

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May 2024
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