New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday accepted the resignation of Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who had resigned the previous night in protest against three farm sector bills.
“The President of India, as advised by the prime minister, has accepted the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Council of Ministers, with immediate effect," the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a statement.
Further, as advised by the prime minister, the president has directed that Cabinet Minister Narendra Singh Tomar be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, in addition to his existing portfolios, it said.
Tomar holds multiple portfolios including the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Rural Development Ministry and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. It has already passed Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.
“I have resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister," Badal tweeted, hours before the bills were passed by Lok Sabha.
I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter & sister.— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) September 17, 2020
As the issue drove a wedge between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, with ruling Congress trying to capitalize on the issue in Punjab, the former said it will decide on whether to remain in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at a later date.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters outside Parliament that his party is ready to make any sacrifice for farmers and their welfare. “The party’s future course of action and whether to stay in the NDA or not will be decided in a party meeting later," he said.
Reacting to Harsimrat Kaur’s resignation, the BJP said she walked out under the pressure of Punjab’s local politics. However, the party still hopes that the matter will be resolved after discussion with the SAD.
“The three agricultural bills passed in the Parliament on Thursday will benefit the farmers. But the way the Congress has spread lies in Punjab, I think the SAD has also come under the pressure of local politics that’s why Harsimrat Kaur resigned. The SAD is also aware about the benefits to farmers from the bills,” news agency IANS quoted BJP spokesperson on economic affairs Gopal Kirshna Agarwal as saying.
Agarwal said, “We are continuously exposing the lies being spread about the bills. Parties like Congress are lying that the minimum support price (MSP) has been scrapped while it has nothing to with all the three bills. Not only MSP but APMC is also not been scrapped."
He said that the opposition is spreading lies about the agricultural reforms in a similar way it did at the time of Citizenship Amendment Act, adding that the government is trying to meet the demands of the farmers through these three bills.