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Farm laws repealed, but Sukhbir Singh Badal rules out alliance with BJP

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Chandigarh, Punjab: The government’s U-turn on the three contentious farm laws – after 17 months of protests – gave a “told-you-so” moment to rivals, including the BJP’s former ally from Punjab – the Shiromani Akali Dal. Last year, the Akali Dal had pulled out its lone minister – Harsimrat Kaur Badal – from the ruling NDA amid differences over the farm laws. Today, Sukhbir Singh Badal emphatically dismissed the possibility of a tie-up in Punjab, where the party is eyeing a return to power as he stressed, “I had warned PM Modi about the black laws.”

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Reacting to the cancellation of the farm laws, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest policy reversals yet, the Akali Dal chief told reporters: “700 lives have been lost (at the farmers’ protests)… the country saw the martyrdom of these people. I had told the Prime Minister… that the farmers won’t agree to the black laws that were framed by the government.”

“What we had said has turned out to be true,” he is heard saying in a video shared by news agency ANI, reminding how the BJP’s oldest ally snapped ties with the ruling coalition last year.

On being asked if his party can now consider an alliance with the BJP in Punjab, he replies with an emphatic “no”.

Earlier today, Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal had also hit out at the government soon after PM Modi’s big announcement in an address to the nation.

“While I congratulate farmers of Punjab, the country, and the world, my first thoughts goes to families of 700 farmers martyred in the noble struggle! This, and the disgraceful incidents like Lakhimpur Kheri will always remain a dark blot on this government’s face,” he said.

Eight people, including four farmers, were run over allegedly by Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish, in UP’s Lakhimpur last month, triggering nationwide condemnation.

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“These brave sons of soil would remain martyrs to cause of justice for farmers, a cause to which my whole life has been dedicated. It was the first time in the history of democratic government that brazen and cruel laws were made without taking stakeholders on board,” the former Punjab Chief Minister further said.

Over the last year, the Akali Dal had urged the government several times to hold talks with farmers camping near the borders of Delhi. Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife Harsmirat Kaur, and many other party leaders had also led demonstrations.

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In a tweet today, former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur also attacked the centre. She also made an appeal for making the minimum support price for farm produce “a legal right” for the farmers.

Ex Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was among other opposition leaders who did not miss an opportunity today to take a jibe at the government. He shared an old video where he had predicted the rollback.

Farmers from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan have been camping at Delhi borders for about a year now amid the pandemic and harsh weather conditions. They say they won’t return to their homes unless the laws are cancelled in parliament.

Former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have said the move has been taken with an eye on UP elections while other critics claim the rollback is also aimed at Punjab elections.

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The Prime Minister, however, in his address to the nation had emphasized: “Whatever I did, I did it for the farmers.”

“While apologising to the nation, I want to say with a sincere and pure heart that maybe something was lacking in our tapasya (dedication) that we could not explain the truth, as clear as the light of the diya, to some of our farmer brothers,” he said.

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