Harsimrat Kaur Badal, an Akali Dal MP who resigned from the Prime Minister's cabinet on Thursday over the controversial farm bills, tells NDTV that she wanted the government to give a hearing to the farmers before tabling the ordinances. She also says Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been working very hard to take the country forward and does not believe his policies are "anti-farmer.
Akali Dal is an ally of the BJP government at the centre and have opposed the farm bills that were passed on Thursday in the Lok Sabha soon after Ms Badal resigned.
Here are the highlights of Harsimrat Kaur Badal's interview to NDTV:
- I have been saying please don't bring in a law which is perceived anti-farmer. And, eventually when I failed to convince the leaders, I requested them to send the ordinance to a select committee. But, I failed, I failed to convince my government.
- Punjab provides 50 per cent of crops to feed the nation. Green Revolution came about due to Punjab farmers. The entire state's economy, everybody is connected with farming. Now, the farming group feels that with the new bill and the capitalist coming in, the farmers fill they will be at the mercy of these private players. This is the apprehension they have. The Centre should talk to them to clear this fear.
- I tried to convince them but my words weren't enough. May be my voice was not loud enough.
- How can you bring in something without taking into consideration the people's perception?
- I mentioned that farmers have apprehension and no rule should be formed without taking the stakeholders on board. And in the last couple of days, when the agitation started gaining momentum, I asked them to please give them a hearing. We don't need a farmers' agitation at this point.
- For the longest time, Congress was synonymous with corruption and Amarinder Singh is synonymous to dhokha (fraud). Captain Amarinder Singh was part of three meetings, where he concurred to the bills.
- In 2019, the Congress manifesto clearly stated that they will do the exactly the same what these ordinances state. So, obviously if these things are in manifesto, Amarinder Singh will concur. Now, they are staging a walkout. They are lying.
- Either the government or I or farmers can't see what will happen in the future but what I can see right now that there will be monopoly. Farmers think their entire future is at stake.
- They (farmers) can only be convinced if the Centre talks to them. Most of these things are verbal and these verbal assurances aren't working for these farmers.
- On MSP: Well, I don't think MSP can afford to go. Now, tomorrow whether MSP stays or government decides to change. All the farmer know that the present situation is good. So, give them the choice.
- If Prime Minister Modi's policies were anti-farmer, Akali Dal wouldn't have been part of the government for 6 years. But a little bit communication with the stakeholders is required. A little bit communication to make the process smoother is required.
- I have resigned to stand in solidarity with the farmers. The way forward will decided by the party and not by me.
- We will go to every extent. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with them until the apprehensions are taken care of.
- A rustic farmer gave an example to us when we held dialogues with them for the last 1-1.5 months - "Jio came in, they gave free phones. When everyone bought those phones and got dependent on these phones, the competition was wiped out, Jio jacked up their rates. This is exactly what the corporates are going to do."
- How do I convince them, they can only be convinced if the people making the rules talk to them. Does the ordinance that they MSP will always remain, that no purchase will take place before the MSP. Most of these things are verbal and these verbal assurances aren't working for these farmers.