Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday described the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Cabinet as "bold, historic and a principled stand", and said the Akalis could never be a party to anything which harms the interests of farmers.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the sole SAD member in the Narendra Modi government, resigned from the Union Cabinet on Thursday in protest against three farm sector bills.
Praising his party for keeping "aloft the flag of justice for farmers", Parkash Singh Badal said if farmers and agricultural economy suffer, the whole economy, including trade and industry, of the country will suffer too.
"Lure of office means nothing to an Akali. Countless times, as during the Emergency, we turned down outright offers of power as a price for silence against injustice.
"We always spurned such offers and preferred to stand by the country and principles, and filled jails for that. That tradition will always live on," the five-time former chief minister of Punjab said in a statement here while reacting to SAD's stand against the farm sector bills.
Parkash Singh Badal described the SAD's decision to pull out of the Union cabinet and fight alongside the farmers as "a proud and a landmark moment in the party's long history of standing up for principles and of always being on the side of the people whenever a line is drawn".
"Farmers of Punjab always came to the country's rescue when it needed to be saved from the ignominy of famines and dependence on other nations. They did so by sacrificing their natural resources -- water levels and soil fertility. Today, it is the country''s turn to stand by the farmers," he said.
The SAD patriarch congratulated Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is also his daughter-in-law, for "speaking out boldly for the farmers and for promising to stand by them".
The proposed legislation on marketing of the farmers' produce needed wider consultations, especially with the stakeholders, the farmers, as well as with parties like the SAD, he said.
Parkash Singh Badal said he was satisfied that as a "mature" representative of the people, the SAD tried to convey the sentiments of farmers to the Centre and tried its best to persuade it to refer the proposed legislation to an all-party select committee of MPs for wider consultations with farmers.
"The party tried to act as a bridge to find an amicable way to fully accommodate the farmers' interests. But I am glad that when that did not seem possible, and a line had to be drawn, the SAD stood on the right side of the line and did the only thing that its proud heritage demanded -- quit the government.
"The SAD could never be a party to anything which harms the interests of farmers," he said.
Badal appealed to Punjabis and all political parties to stand with farmers, during this "struggle for justice".
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