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Citing ‘Emergency and Dictatorship’, Parkash Singh Badal Appeals to Modi Over Farmer Protests

Parkash Singh Badal. (News18)

Parkash Singh Badal. (News18)

The veteran SAD leader, a former ally of the NDA, asked Modi to show magnanimity and demanded that '100 per cent procurement of farmers' produce be purchased at minimum support price.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "show magnanimity" and immediately scrap the three central farm laws "as a first step" towards the resolution of farmers' demands.

"The scars of wounds already inflicted will take a long time to heal," he said. The veteran Shiromani Akali Dal leader, a former ally of the NDA, also demanded that "100 per cent procurement of farmers' produce be purchased at minimum support price as per the Swaminathan formula and it be made a statutory right of the farmer".

Badal also emphasised the "need for a liberal, secular democratic approach to resolve all problems facing the country".

In the letter, Badal had cited the days of Emergency and "dictatorship" and sought Modi’s personal intervention to resolve the stalemate.

"Consultation, conciliation and consensus are the foundation of any democracy. Consultative processes alone lead to consensus and consensus alone is the recipe for avoiding confrontations like the one we see now between the government and the farmers," the letter read.

"I have battled against dictatorship in the Emergency days. My experience tells me that respect for peaceful democratic values offer us the best solutions to even the most complex and intractable problems," he wrote.

The strongly-worded letter said the government had rejected federal principles and questioned the government's failure to call an all-party meeting when it became clear that the Centre's new farm sector laws have been decisively rejected by the farmers.

“This was unbelievable as PM Modi had been among the biggest champions of federal structure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, advocating more power and a greater role for states in running the country,” he wrote.

He also stressed the need for making India a "truly federal country", adding that "the roots of the ongoing crisis lie in the abdication of our commitment to the federal approach".

"The farmers' crisis is not the only instance where this inclusive approach to nation- building has been ignored or abandoned. The county and its government need to follow an approach based on widespread consultation and consensus. The scars left by our failure to do so in the recent divisive and destabilising moments will take a long time to heal."

In a four-page letter to the Prime Minister, Badal said: "The three farm Acts that have pushed the country into deep turmoil must be withdrawn without making the farmers and their families endure any more suffering in this biting cold."

"The issue does not concern the farmers alone but affects the entire economic fabric of the country, as traders, businessmen, shopkeepers, 'arhtiyas' and labourers are also directly affected by it," he added.

Badal, whose Shiromani Akali Dal had parted company with the NDA over the farmers' issue, returned his Padma Vibhushan award to the government last week to protest the Haryana government's use of force against the Delhi-bound farmers.