SAD (Badal) flip-flops on Indian government’s ‘anti-farmer’ ordinances on agriculture

CHANDIGARH, Punjab—The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) which is struggling to save its stronghold—Sikh farmers—is flip-flopping on the issue of the Indian government’s agriculture ordinances which is presumed as “anti-farmer” move and are being subjected to be enacted by the Indian parliament.

The ordinances are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

Ever since the ordinances were issued by the BJP-led central government of India, the SAD (Badal), which is also one of the constituents in this alliance government, had been backing them stating that these ordinances would not harm the farmers. It ruled out farmers’ apprehension that these ordinances will terminate Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) of the crops. SAD’s patriarch Parkash Badal especially issued his message to support the move.

Ahead of the monsoon session of the Indian parliament, during which laws were planned to be enacted incorporating the provisions of the three farm ordinances, the SAD (Badal) made U-turn on September 12 amid widespread protests by farmers who are its core vote bank in Punjab.

After BJP ignored its reservations on farm ordinances, SAD (Badal) MPs including president Sukhbir Badal voted against the bill introduced in Lok Sabha, the lower house, in this regard yesterday.  

Today, SAD (Badal) chief whip in Rajya Sabha, the upper house, Naresh Gujral issued a three line whip to all members of the Rajya Sabha to oppose the three central Ordinances related to agriculture marketing as well as amendments in the Essential Commodities Act. 

In the whip issue today, Gujral has directed all SAD Rajya Sabha members to oppose the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020, 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. These bills will be presented in Rajya Sabha tomorrow.

Reversing stand on this issue by the SAD (Badal) is turning out to be a hot topic in the politics of Punjab and it is being said by the protesting farmers that the party corrected its wrong stand very late.

It is being speculated that SAD (Badal) may part ways with the saffron party in the centre and the president’s wife Harsimrat Badal may step down as a member of the Central Cabinet. However, the SAD (Badal) is in a fix over it.

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