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Parkash Singh Badal returns Padma Vibhushan to protest ‘betrayal of farmers’

In a letter e-mailed to the President, veteran Akali leader Parkash Singh Badal listed his reasons for feeling “hurt and betrayed” by the government’s attitude and actions against the farmers

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Parkash Singh Badal

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and five-time former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday returned the Padma Vibhushan award in protest against the “betrayal of the farmers by the government of India and the shocking indifference and contempt with which it is treating the ongoing peaceful and democratic agitation” of the farmers against the three farm Acts.

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

SAD, one of the oldest constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), had snapped ties with the BJP in September 2020 and pulled out of the alliance to protest against the agriculture marketing laws enacted by the Central government.

In a letter e-mailed to the President, Badal listed his reasons for feeling “hurt and betrayed” by the government’s attitude and actions against the farmers. “When the Government of India had brought the ordinances, assurances were given that the farmers’ apprehensions would be addressed to their satisfaction while bringing the relevant Bills and subsequently the Acts. Trusting these assurances, I even appealed to the farmers to believe the Government’s word. But I was shocked when the Government simply went back on its word,” he wrote.

The former chief minister described that period as the most painful and embarrassing moment in his long political career. “I just cannot put in words the pain and emotional stress which I have been going through since then. I have truly begun to wonder why has the Government of the country become so heartless, so cynical and so ungrateful towards the farmers,” he said. Badal also said he had been deeply pained by the communal insinuations being thrown at the peacefully and democratically protesting farmers.

Badal regretted that the government remains indifferent to the sufferings of the farmers. “The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of farmers crying out for justice in one voice in the national capital would have moved any other nation or its government,” he said. No such sensitivity towards the farmers’ pain and anger is visible here, he said, hoping that as the first citizen of the country and a conscientious public figure, the President too would be fully aware and perhaps as deeply concerned about these developments.

Badal felt apologetic that the pleas of farmer friendly parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal were mocked. “It was cynically suggested that farmers take loans just for ostentatious lifestyle. This cruel cynicism and malice against the farmers did not stop even when thousands of farmers in this country were and are being driven to take their own lives in a phenomenon called farmer suicides,” he said. He also came down heavily on the government, saying that while “corporate loans worth lakhs of crores are waived off with just a single thoughtless stroke of the governmental pen, no one has ever thought of even subsiding the farm debts, forget a complete waiver”.

Politics

Don’t commit ‘sin’ of using force against protesters: Sharad Pawar

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its “extreme position” on the issue.

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Sharad Pawar

In the wake of violence during the farmers” tractor parade, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said what happened in Delhi is indefensible, but one also cannot ignore reasons which led to the situation as he warned against use of force on protesters.

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its “extreme position” on the issue.

A tractor march meant to highlight farmers” demands dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the national capital, as hordes of rampaging protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort, a privilege reserved for the tricolour.

Interacting with media persons here, Pawar said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against protesters and asked the Modi government to not commit that sin.

The farmers organised tractor rally. It was expected of the Centre and those responsible for law and order then to deal with them sensibly. But it did not happen is obvious, Pawar alleged.

Pawar said a way out should have been found over the farmers demands without hurting the protesters who have been agitating for two months.
The NCP leader said from the information he has received, strict conditions were imposed on the protesters before they took out the tractor rally.

It was required to deal with the protesters keeping in mind their 50-60 days agitation and their patience. But a different view was held (by the authorities) and hence, the situation has deteriorated.

None can defend what is happening there today. But we also cannot ignore why it is happening, Pawar said.

Pawar said it was the responsibility of the Centre to note why the farmers who were protesting peacefully till now turned angry and added the government should have handled the agitators accordingly.

But it did not happen and the situation deteriorated, Pawar alleged.

It is my expectation that the Centre shows prudence and gives up its extreme position on the issue while holding dialogue with these (farmers) bodies.

It should hold a dialogue. It should think of their demands seriously and take a suitable decision, Pawar said.

He said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against the agitators.

If this is not done (dialogue is not held) and if we (the Centre) try to use force, then Punjab — which was restless once upon a time, but has recovered — may head towards restlessness and the Modi government should not commit that sin, Pawar added. PTI

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Congress to welcome farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi

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The Congress in Delhi will welcome the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26 on the rally route to pledge solidarity with the farmers demanding the repeal of the three farm laws. The Congress workers have been asked by the party to welcome the rally on various points in the capital.

The Congress said the farm laws, if implemented in the present form, will be a total sell-out of the farm sector to a few chosen corporates supporting the BJP, therefore the farmers demand repeal of the laws.

Chowdhry Anil Kumar, President of the Delhi Congress unit said, “The farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for over the past 60 days, braving the bone-chilling cold weather, demanding the repeal of the anti-farmer laws, and over 100 farmers have already become martyrs to the cause, and I will personally welcome the tractor rally.”

He alleged that the Modi government seems to be unmoved by the plight of the farmers, and adamant that it will not repeal the three laws after 11 rounds of talks with the farmers have produced no result, as the government is firm on not repealing the laws and is just fooling the farmers by holding futile talks. He said that the tractor rally will be a loud statement of the farmers’ anguish and anxiety.

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Politics

Congress has high hopes with DMK in Tamil Nadu

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rahul gandhi pti
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The Congress is pinning its hopes on the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, where it will contest in alliance with the DMK, with former party president Rahul Gandhi making a trip to the southern state twice in 10 days and is expected to visit the state again in February.

Rahul Gandhi has been invoking Tamil pride in the state and attacking the BJP and AIADMK. In one of his speeches, the Congress leader said, “The Prime Minister says one language, one culture and one nation. Is Tamil not an Indian language? Is Tamil history not Indian history?”

Attacking the BJP, Rahul Gandhi said in another of his speeches, “It is an honour for me to be here with you. Whenever I come to Tamil Nadu, I am struck by your enthusiasm and by the way you live your life, something that I call Tamil spirit. No matter what difficulty you face, you always have a smile on your face and remain positive.”

He also said that in every non-BJP ruled state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses the CBI and ED to attack the opposition. “Why is the ED and the CBI not investigating the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister? What has the CM given to PM Modi in exchange for this? That is the central question,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi also alleged that Modi has the remote control to the government of Tamil Nadu, but the people of the state will take the batteries out of his remote control and throw them away.

The DMK-Congress alliance had outsmarted the AIADMK in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and holds an advantage in the Assembly elections as the ruling party lacks a charismatic leader such as Jayalalitha.

While the DMK has an alliance with the Congress, the AIADMK is likely to go with the BJP. The Congress is optimistic as its alliance with the DMK and the CPI(M) had won 38 out of the 39 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

There is also an anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu with the AIADMK ruling the state for two terms now.

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