Akali Dal's Harsimrat Kaur Badal -- a former minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet -- today attacked the government over the farmers' issue, alleging the Prime Minister had call them "parasites". She also accused the government of targeting journalists over their coverage of the protest.
"The farmers are braving the cold at Delhi's borders but the government's "eyes and ears are shut", she said in Lok Sabha, participating in the debate on the motion to thank the President's address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session.
"On Constitution Day (November 26), lathis and tear gas rained on unarmed farmers," she said.
"Farmers don't grow AK-47s. They have been maligned and slammed by government in every way possible. When PM Modi was a Chief Minister, he wanted to secure farmers with MSP, but now he has taken a 360 degree turn! And no words for them in Mann Ki Baat or from Rashtrapati Bhavan even after 150 farmers' deaths," she said.
"The Prime Minister called the farmers 'parjeevi' meaning parasites. Whom did the PM call parasites? The 'annadatas' -- the farmers who put food on the table," she said, holding up photographs of farmers who died at the Delhi border since their protest started on November 26.
"When somebody writes the truth, you jail them," she said showing up the photograph of some journalists.
"And then this girl," she said, holding up the photograph of labour activist Naudeep Kaur. "You talk about the empowerment of Dalits while this girl was brutalized," she said, referring to the 23-year-old whose arrest more than 20 days ago and detention in police custody without bail has drawn international attention.
In a series of tweets later, Ms Badal whose party had quit the government and the NDA last year over the farmers'protests, sharply attacked the government.
Spoke in #Parliament & asked GoI to come clean on its intentions about the so-called welfare of farmers. Farmers want GoI to take back its 'goodwill' & simply protect it by making #MSP a legal provision. But the govt clearly seems dedicated to its capitalist corporate cronies. pic.twitter.com/VrlP4X0yU7— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) February 9, 2021
"See the arrogance of BJP-led Centre. It vilified farmers as bicholiya, naxals & Khalistanis & refused to despatch any minister to seek their welfare. State following policy of repression against agitating youth, social activists & journalists," another tweet read.