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Cracks in NDA? Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal Quits Modi Govt Over Controversial Farm Bills, Says Stand With Farmers

The party says that despite the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur, the Shiromani Akali Dal will continue to support the Modi government.

New Delhi| Today is the fifth day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. The opposition has been raising questions about Govt’s handling of the pandemic and falling economy. Earlier on Thursday, in what was seen as a blow to NDA, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the ministry. President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted her resignation. Her decision came on the wheels of mounting anger in Punjab and Haryana farmers against the 3 bills related to agriculture and farming. Punjab farmers form a large chunk of Shiromani Akali Dal’s vote bank. After her resignation, she conducted a press conference in which she said that the party stands with the farmers on the issue.

The three agriculture bills were introduced in Parliament on Thursday. During the discussion on 2 Bills in Lok Sabha, Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal said that his party is not in favor of Bills. However, the party says that despite the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur, the Shiromani Akali Dal will continue to support the Modi government.

A few days ago there were farmers’ unions took to streets of Punjab and Haryana to protest against the three farm ordinances. The farmers fear that the new bills will pave the way for corporatization of agriculture and end the govt security and APMC markets. The govt on the other hand, calls the bills as the biggest agricultural reform in the country yet.

What Are The Fears of Farmers?

1. Will the agricultural market end?

The government says: Mandis operating in the states will continue. But, the farmer will also have the right to sell anywhere in the open market.

Argument in opposition: Initially Mandis will run but gradually corporates will take over. Mandis will no longer be used.

2. Will there be a support price?

The government says: MSP will remain the minimum support price. The government will continue purchasing agricultural produce at the MSP itself.

Argument in opposition: When corporate companies contract the farmer before govt, the importance of MSP will end.

3. How to get reasonable price?

The government says: The farmer can sell the crop from any market or online trading in the country. Many options will provide a better price.

Arguments in opposition: There will be no system of pricing. More private sector purchases will make it difficult to fix a price.

4. What if there is fraud in contract farming?

The government says: The farmer will get a fixed minimum amount. The contract will be limited to the crop and infrastructure of the farmer. There will be no control over the land of the farmer. ADM will give a decision on the dispute in 30 days.

Argument in opposition: Corporate or businessman will add fertilizer according to his own and then the land could become barren.

Three Bills Being Opposed By Farmers

  • Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill
  • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill
  • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill

The government introduced these three bills through ordinance on June 5 during lockdown. There has been an uproar since then. The central government is terming them the biggest agrarian reforms ever. However, the opposition parties have said that this will open doors for exploitation of farmers by corporates.

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