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Stop Defaming Farmers, Hold Talks on Ways to Repeal Agri Laws: Sukhbir Badal to Centre

File photo of Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal

File photo of Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal

In a statement here, the SAD president said the Union government has adopted a callous and insensitive attitude towards the suffering of farmers who are camping out in the open in severe cold wave conditions at Delhi borders.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday said the Centre should stop defaming farmers and hold talks with them on ways to repeal its contentious agriculture laws. In a statement here, the SAD president said the Union government has adopted a callous and insensitive attitude towards the suffering of farmers who are camping out in the open in severe cold wave conditions at Delhi borders.

It almost seems that the government wants to punish the farmers for raising their voice against the three agricultural marketing laws which were forced through in the last parliamentary session. This is the reason why the centre has adopted a policy which is aimed at tiring out the farmers, the SAD leader said. Bogey of talks is being raised with the sole purpose of defaming the farmers and giving the impression that they are being stubborn. The truth is that it is the Centre which is being obstinate by refusing to repeal the three Agriculture acts which are unacceptable to farmers across the country," he said.

Asking the NDA government not to play with the “sentiments of farmers by extending non-specific talk invitations without any agenda or time frame", Badal said the Centre should hold talks on ways and means to repeal the three laws in a sincere manner. It should also desist from defaming farmers as separatists and victimising arhtiyas (commission agents) through income tax raids. It would be best if the government called a special one-day session to repeal the three agricultural laws. Once this is done, then new laws can be framed in consultation with farmers. I don’t see any reason to fault this logic. Not doing so will only strengthen the impression that corporate players who stand to gain through enslavement of farmers are coming in the way of a fair settlement to the ongoing farmer agitation, he said.

Telling the top BJP leadership to adopt a “humanistic approach", Badal said, “More than 40 farmers have already lost their lives in the last one month. They have been agitating against these measures ever since they were introduced as Ordinances six months back. The government steadfastly refused to listen to the grievances of the farmers for five months and only initiated talks when the farmers blockaded the borders of Delhi."

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‘This does not bode well for a democratic State. How many more farmers should be martyred before the State sits up and listens to their voice and acts on it," the former Punjab deputy chief minister added.

Remembering the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birth anniversary, Badal said he would not have let things come to such a pass.

The present NDA government needs to learn from the example of inclusive governance set by the late prime minister and take everyone along with it. Divisive politics is not good for the progress of the country. The government should move swiftly to end the suffering of thousands of men, women and children who are camped in unbearable conditions on its doorsteps. Let us give the ‘annadaata’ the respect it deserves, Badal added. The SAD had earlier broken ties with the BJP and had pulled out of the NDA over the agriculture laws.

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first published:December 25, 2020, 20:16 IST