New Delhi, Sep 15 : The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday opposed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill of 2020, saying that as a party of farmers, it cannot support anything which goes against the interest of the country’s ‘annadaata’, especially in Punjab.
“The SAD is essentially an organisation of farmers. Every Akali is a farmer and every farmer is an Akali by heart. The party has always championed the cause of the farmers and has made supreme sacrifices to safeguard their interests. That legacy can not and will not be compromised or diluted, no matter what price we have to pay,” SAD President Sukhbir Badal said in the Lok Sabha.
In a sharp speech lasting nearly 19 minutes, Badal said the government erred grievously in not taking the stakeholders, farmers and their organisations on board.
Stating that the SAD was not consulted before the farm ordinances were framed, Badal said, “Ever since the ordinances were issued, we have been asking the government not to press with it and not to bring this bill. But our voice was not heard.”
He said when these ordinances were discussed in the Cabinet, the party’s representative Harsimrat Kaur Badal had raised objections and voiced the concerns of the farmers, requesting the ordinances be put off.
“But the ordinances were still issued. We had hoped then that the government will correct the mistake when a bill on these would be introduced. But that has not happened,” Badal said.
The SAD President said that Punjab will be the worst affected by the effect of these ordinances and the bill to convert these into an Act.
“Punjab and Haryana have built best marketing infrastructure with their own resources. We will be the worst affected if the assured marketing of farmers’ produce at MSP is endangered,” he said.
Badal articulated the popular reaction to these bills with an anecdotal reference to his meeting with a farmer.
“I asked a farmer why he was opposed to these ordinances. He compared these ordinances with the Jio initiative. Farmers fear the bills will lead to monopolisation by multinationals,” he said.
Recalling his party’s long history of struggle for farmers’ interests, he said Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal had spent 16 years in jail and one of the main reasons for that was that he always fought for the farmers’ cause.
“The country has produced three great Kisan leaders — Sardar Parkash Sing Badal, Chaudhary Charan Singh and Chaudhary Devi Lal. The SAD, therefore, has to live up to the legacy of Sardar Badal,” he added.