A massive debate has erupted in the country over the provisions of agricultural bills passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the only representative of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Food Processing Minister in the government, has resigned in a form of protest against these bills. But this resignation is nothing but hogwash. The Indian farmers are being misled against the Central government and are being encouraged to agitate while in reality, the ordinances are in their best interest. These bills will not only eliminate the license-permit raj but will also stop the inspector raj in agriculture which is the bread and butter of many politicians and hence, the heartburn.
Political parties, especially the Shiromani Akali Dal, are taking the lead in misleading the farmers about the historic bills passed in the Lok Sabha. In fact, the purpose of this bill is to eliminate middlemen, who love to eat a lot of commission from farmers. The middlemen system is quite prevalent in Punjab and Haryana and hence, most of the protests are concentrated in these areas.
It is pertinent to note that while the opposition is protesting against these bills tooth and nail, in the Indian National Congress in its manifesto for the 2019 LS polls had proposed the abolition of the APMC Act in order to make agricultural produce free from restrictions.
The act which seeks to eliminate the role of middlemen is causing heartburn amongst the politicians and the Lutyens journalists alike. Ravish Kumar did a show criticising the bills as he laughably claimed that the middlemen and the farmers have “connections”.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s resignation is nothing but a sham, a desperate attempt to save the flagging fortunes of the SAD and when one goes deeper into the resignation, the whole matter becomes easier to understand.
There are three main reasons behind Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s resignation. Now with the end of the middlemen, many political parties will not receive the money that they used to from the middlemen. Prime Minister Modi also tweeted on Thursday, “These bills will truly free the farmers from middlemen and all obstacles.” He said, “This agrarian reform will provide new opportunities for the farmers to sell their produce, which will increase their profitability. While this will give our agriculture sector the benefit of modern technology, the farmers will be empowered.” PM Modi hit out at the detractors of the bill as he stated that there a lot of people who are hell-bent on confusing the farmers.
It seems that the Akali Dal is under pressure from the middlemen to stop this bill, otherwise the party will have to bear the consequences. The Akali Dal is also called the party of farmers, and this party fears with the core issue of the farmers solved, the entire existence of the party will be up in the air. The middlemen are bent on opposing this bill with their full strength and are leaving no stone unturned in misleading the farmers. Harsimrat Kaur’s resignation is only and only to save the relevance of SAD. If she had to protest, she would have resigned when the ordinance related to it was passed. After all, what does she want to prove by resigning now?
There is no doubt that the SAD is a burden on the BJP and the latter is in a mood to dump the SAD. The SAD is neither getting much success in the Lok Sabha nor does the Punjab electorate seem to be in a mood to vote back SAD to power anytime soon. The SAD could win only two Lok Sabha seats out of the 14 LS seats in Punjab despite a massive Modi wave. The party ended up third in the Punjab assembly elections as it finished with a paltry score of 14 out of the total 117 seats in the Punjab Assembly.
In fact, due to the Akali Dal, the BJP in Punjab does not get the importance that the BJP enjoys in other states. The connection of the SAD with the flourishing drug trade in Punjab has often grabbed the headlines.
The bills, if understood, in layman’s language, states that the farmers will be able to sell their produce in places other than the mandis directed by the government. It will also provide better prices to the farmers.
In no terms is the Government procurement t being brought to an end, in fact, the farmers are given more options where they can sell their crop.
The APMC system forced the farmers to sell their produce through only a few Mandis. Many economists argued for a change in this system. Now the government has finally changed the draconian system.
The agrarian reform bill aims to reduce the risk of small and marginal farmers who cultivate less than 5 hectares. The aim is to give farmers access to modern technologies and reduce the cost of farming which will increase the income of the farmer.
It is clear that the Akali Dal, facing an existential crisis, is trying to project itself as the messiah by Harsimrat Kaur’s resignation thereby trying to put the BJP in a spot and trying to regain its lost voter base of the Jat-Sikh peasants.