Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Thursday submitted her resignation as Union minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, principal advisor to Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Thursday.
Harcharan Bains, the principal advisor, said Kaur submitted her resignation soon after the party chief announced in Lok Sabha that she would quit the Union Cabinet in protest against the three farm bills, tabled in Parliament by the Centre for passage.
Kaur, the Union Minister of Food Processing Industries, is the only SAD representative in the Modi government.
Earlier, in his speech during a discussion on two of the farm bills — the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the proposed laws will “destroy” the 50 years of hard work put in by successive Punjab governments and farmers to build the agriculture sector.
He recalled Punjab’s massive contribution in making India self-sufficient in food grain production as he vehemently opposed the bills.
“I want to make an announcement that our Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal will resign from Cabinet,” he said in concluding remarks.
He also refuted suggestions that his party initially supported three ordinances, which these bills seek to replace, and asserted that Harsimrat Kaur Badal had expressed her concerns in the Cabinet meeting and also wrote to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, highlighting “flaws” in the proposed legislations.
Hitting out at the Congress, which has sought to corner the SAD over these bills, he accused the party of “double speak” on the issue and noted that the abolition of the APMC Act was part of its manifesto in both the 2019 Lok Sabha election and the 2017 Assembly polls in Punjab.
The Shiromani Akali Dal is the BJP’s oldest ally and has stood by the saffron party through thick and thin.
The SAD president said the three bills, including the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, which has been passed by Lok Sabha, are going to affect 20 lakh farmers and 15-20 lakh farm labourers in Punjab alone.
The state with 2.5 per cent of the country’s landmass produces nearly 50 per cent of food grains for the country, he added.
Punjab’s mandi system is the best in the world with a network of 1,900 setups across 12,000 villages, he said.
Earlier during the discussion, Ravneet Singh ‘Bittu’ of the Congress, who is from Punjab, took a a swipe at the SAD, demanding proof that Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Cabinet Minister of Food Processing Industries, had opposed the three farm sector ordinances.
He said if she does not resign to protest the bills, Badals would find it difficult to return to Punjab. She is wife of Sukhbir Singh Badal.