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New Farmer Bills: Why SAD minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned?

Soon after the only Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Minister in the Union Cabinet Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned over the farm sector Bills, party president Sukhbir Singh Badal has hinted that SAD can think of quitting an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

SAD is a part of NDA where Member Parliament from Bathinda, Harsimrat Kaur Badal who is also the wife of Sukhbir Singh Badal was the Minister of Food Processing Industry before she tendered her resignation on Thursday evening over the three farm bills that were tabled in Parliament.

Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a statement outside Parliament that SAD was ready to make any sacrifice for farmers of Punjab. He hinted towards ending the alliance of SAD with BJP but did not clearly tell as to when that could happen. However SAD could come under severe pressure if it sever its ties with the saffron party in Punjab as it could further embolden Congress in the state.

The political mathematics in Punjab is set by SAD and BJP in such a way that the areas with majority Hindu population are focused by the latter while the ones with majority Sikh population witness SAD candidates. Both the parties do not field candidates against each other in any constituency of Punjab be it Lok Sabha polls or assembly elections.

SAD had initially supported the BJP led central government over the three farm bills including Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill but relented after the protest by the farmers over the same in Punjab and other parts of the country.

SAD has asked the BJP to not introduce these bills in Parliament but the warnings were not adhered to after which SAD Member Parliament Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the ministry of Food Processing.

The bill allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside: (i) the physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts and (ii) other markets notified under the state APMC Acts.  Such trade can be conducted in an ‘outside trade area’, i.e., any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers’ produce including: (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storage.

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