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Opinion

Badal returns Padma Vibushan in protest against agricultural laws

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Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and five-time ex-Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal returned the Padam Vibhushan award on Thursday in protest against the “betrayal of farmers by the Government of India and indifference and shocking contempt with which it is treating the “permanent peaceful and democratic agitation” of the farmers against the three agrarian laws.

“I am who I am thanks to the people, especially the common farmer. Today, when he (the farmer) has lost more than his honor, I see no point in keeping the honor of Padma Vibhushan, ”wrote veteran leader Akali in a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind. He described the government’s betrayal of the farmers as “rays out of nowhere on the country’s already beleaguered peasantry,” adding that the farmer finds himself waging bitter struggles in severe cold just to secure his fundamental right to live.

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SAD, one of the oldest components of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), severed ties with the BJP in September 2020 and withdrew from the alliance to protest against agricultural marketing laws enacted by the central government.

In an emailed letter to the president, Badal listed his reasons for feeling “hurt and betrayed” by the government’s attitude and actions against farmers. “When the Government of India introduced the ordinances, they were assured that the arrests of the farmers would be addressed to their satisfaction by introducing the relevant bills and subsequently the laws. Relying on these guarantees, I even called on the farmers to believe the government’s word. But I was surprised that the government simply did not keep its word, “he wrote.

The former prime minister described that period as the most painful and embarrassing in his long political career. “I cannot put into words the pain and emotional stress that I have been through since then. I have really started to wonder why the government of the country has become so ruthless, so cynical and so ungrateful to farmers, ”he said. Badal also said he had been deeply hurt by the communal innuendos that were thrown at farmers protesting peacefully and democratically.

Badal regretted that the government remains indifferent to the suffering of farmers. “The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of farmers calling for justice with one voice in the national capital would have shaken any other nation or its government,” he said. You don’t see such sensitivity to the pain and anger of farmers here, he said, hoping that as the country’s first citizen and conscientious public figure, the president will also be fully aware of and perhaps just as deeply concerned about these developments.

Badal regretted that the pleas of farmer-friendly festivals such as Shiromani Akali Dal had been mocked. “It was cynically suggested that farmers borrow just for a lavish lifestyle. This cruel cynicism and malice against farmers did not stop even as thousands of farmers in this country went and are being pushed to kill themselves in a phenomenon called farmer suicide, ”he said. He also harshly criticized the government, saying that while “corporate loans worth billions of rupees are canceled with a single thoughtless stroke of the government pen, no one has even thought about subsidizing agricultural debts, forget about a full waiver” . .

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