Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigns over Centre's farm bills
Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet on Thursday. Badal's Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had notably been facing heat from farmers over its initial support to the central government's farm sector bills. The resignation came shortly after SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal announced in the Lok Sabha that the minister will quit in protest of the bills.
Proud to stand with farmers, said Harsimrat Badal
Announcing her resignation, Badal tweeted on Thursday, "I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister." She is the only representative of the Akali Dal in the Modi government. The party is also the oldest ally of PM Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
You can view Badal's tweet here
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
What are the controversial 'anti-farmer' bills?
The controversial bills, tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday, are: The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, has been passed by the Lok Sabha by voice vote.
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana protest against bills
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against the three bills. Although there is no uniform demand among the protesters, it has been noted that they mainly object to The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020. Their concerns are about the sections pertaining to "trade area", "trader", "dispute resolution" and "market fee."
Party will support government, oppose bills: Akali chief
Sukhbir Singh Badal—who is also the minister's husband—announced in the Lok Sabha that the party is withdrawing their minister from the Cabinet. Mr. Badal said the party will continue to support the Modi-led Centre, but oppose the "anti-farmer politics." He said the Centre never consulted his party before the ordinances were framed. Notably, the party had voted against the Essential Commodities Bill on Tuesday.
Harsimrat Kaur had opposed laws earlier, says Akali chief
The Akalis had initially supported the laws, however, decided to oppose them after understanding the farmers' sentiment. However, Sukhbir Singh Badal contended that Harsimrat Kaur had "expressed her reservations when the matter was taken up during a Cabinet meeting." He said she had also opposed the Cabinet proposal during the inter-ministerial consultation. She had also written to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, he said.