With a large number of farmers’ organisations from Punjab walking out of a meeting with Union agriculture secretary Sanjay Agrawal in New Delhi today — which was convened by the Centre to discuss its contentious farm laws — Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the Narendra Modi government of “betraying” farmers and their organisations on the pretext of holding talks with them on its new agriculture sector laws.
Addressing a Press conference, Badal said the BJPled Union government was repeating the “blunders” of the past Congress rulers vis-a-vis Punjab and was ”resorting to the same anti-Punjab and anti-farmer conspiracies to provoke farmers and youth”.
This may have serious consequences for peace in the sensitive border state of Punjab as well as for stability in the country since farmers’ struggle is a national issue, he warned. Significantly, such remarks made by the SAD chief echoed his principal bête noire and Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s statements in this regard.
The oldest ally of the BJP, the SAD pulled out of the Modi ministry before quitting the BJP-led NDA last month in protest against the Centre’s “anti-farmers” legislations.
The SAD president today also asserted that the Prime Minister should have found time to meet the farmers instead of sending a bureaucrat to “preach at them.”
“If the PM was too busy on this day, the meeting could easily have been rescheduled. The farmers did the right thing by coming out and refusing to walk into the conspiracy,” the Akali leader said iterating the SAD’s “total, unflinching and unconditional support to the farmers struggle”.
The leaders of the Punjab farmers organisations boycotted the meeting in the national capital today since even Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar or any junior minister was not present there.
The SAD president demanded that all the “black laws” (new farm laws) against farmers must be scrapped and the farmers organisations be consulted on the way forward. “The farmers’ loss is the loss of the entire nation. The black laws are against not just farmers but also khet mazdoors, mandi labour, arhtiyas, small traders and shopkeepers as well as the overall business, trade and industry in the country,” he asserted.
Badal also charged that the Punjab CM was “acting totally at the behest of the BJP government in trying to sabotage the farmers’ movement“.
“Amarinder sent his ministers to farmers to mislead them into withdrawing their just struggle and end the road and rail protests,” he said.
“The Centre has messed up a great opportunity. The opportunity had been created by the farmers’ organisations through their largehearted and constructive response to the Union government’s invite,” Badal said.
“But the Centre chose to play games and indulge in double speak. The whole purpose of the exercise had already been defeated by the BJP designating senior and powerful ministers to visit Punjab and prove that the farmers were wrong in demanding a change in the three Acts of the Government of India,” he said.