Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday assured farmers that the two Bills passed by Parliament would free them from the clutches of middlemen and give them the latitude to market their farm produce without restrictions.
Modi said those opposing the reforms were anti-farmer and speaking for middlemen and intermediaries. The prime minister assured the farmers that they would get a higher minimum support price and better marketing facilities. More important, the government would continue to purchase their produce as was the case now.
Meanwhile, even as the Akali Dal reiterated on Friday that it has not yet snapped ties with the BJP, PM Modi did not blink before forwarding the resignation of Dal’s lone representative in the Cabinet, Harsimrat Badal, to the President. Her food processing portfolio has been handed over to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
Harsimrat’s husband Sukhbir, who was lobbying since the start of the monsoon session for deferring the tabling of the Bills until the farmers were reassured, regretted that power has gone to the head and the ruling dispensation was not consulting minor allies.
This was why the Shiv Sena had walked out on the BJP late last year after the Assembly elections, he pointed out, adding that the SAD and Shiv Sena were the foundation members of the NDA.
Badal also debunked the BJP leaders’ claim that Harsimrat had supported the Ordinances on agriculture in the Union cabinet meeting as a "white lie." She had opposed it in the Cabinet and continuously lobbied against it. He also released her resignation letter which said the government did not take the farmer into confidence.
The BJP leaders in Punjab are upset that their alliance with the Dal will be impacted by the developments at the Centre.
IMPACT IN HARYANA: The ripples may also be felt in neighbouring Haryana, which is another state where the farmers are agitating. It will be no surprise if there if pressure on the BJP's Haryana ally Dushyant Singh Chautala to resign as deputy chief minister. Incidentally, the Badals had played an important role in sealing the BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana.
The JJP has 11 MLAs, as against the BJP's 40 in an Assembly of 90 and withdrawal of support may jeopardise the government of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The Congress, with 31 seats in the House, is waiting in the wings to stake claim, if Dushyant rocks the boat.