SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday urged President Ram Nath Kovind not to sign the farm Bills, passed by the Rajya Sabha, and also requested him that they be returned to Parliament for reconsideration. The Shiromani Akali Dal chief said the passage of the Bills marks a sad day for the country's millions and for democracy.
Democracy is not majority oppression but about consultation, conciliation and consensus, Badal said in a statement here. All three democratic virtues were ignored in today's proceedings. This distortion can only be corrected with a presidential intervention, said Badal.
While requesting the President not to sign the Bills, Sukhbir said, Please stand by the farmers, 'kisan mazdoors', 'arhtiyas', mandi labour and Dalits. They are facing exploitation and look up to you to exercise your discretion as the highest executive in the country. Come to their rescue by not signing these bills so that they do not acquire the finality of an act, said Sukhbir in a plea to the President.
Failing this, the poor, beleaguered classes and their future generations will never forgive us, he said. Don't let the 'annadata' (farmers) starve or sleep on the roads, he added. Badal requested the President to return the Bills to Parliament for reconsideration so that the hasty decisions taken in a fleeting moment of overzealous stubbornness do not leave permanent scars on the nation's psyche".
Therefore, there is still time to reconsider this decision and undo the damage it threatens to cause to our overall national interests, especially at this critical juncture when the country's economy requires social stability, peace and harmony to recover from the traumatic after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. The Constitution gives the President the power to withhold assent to certain categories of bills passed by Parliament.
Sukhbir said the founding fathers had made this constitutional provision after thorough consideration of all aspects. The President can ask Parliament to reconsider its decision in absence of a national consensus on any decision of the government, he said.
There was never a greater urgency for the President of India to exercise that discretion than there is today as the present legislations put a question mark on the present and the future of over 80 per cent of the country's population directly and of the remaining 20 per cent indirectly. This is the fittest case for the President to exercise his superior wisdom and ask the two Houses of the Parliament to reconsider these bills. This is so vital in the overall national interest, said Sukhbir.
Amid massive uproar by opposition members, the Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. These were passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
Earlier, SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the union cabinet in protest against the Bills, a move described as "bold, historic and principled stand" by party stalwart and five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The SAD is part of the National Democratic Alliance.
As ties with the BJP have come under strain over the issue, the SAD has said that the party's cOre committee will decide on the continuation of the alliance. Sukhbir on Friday had said it was very unfortunate that the BJP did not take farmers on board over the issue.
Senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra on Saturday said they have decided to take the fight to its logical conclusion and appealed to all political parties to join them in "raising the voice of farmers". Farmers in Punjab have been protesting against the Bills.
They have expressed apprehension that the three Bills would pave a way for dismantling the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.