NEW DELHI: The Shiromani Akali Dal, an ally of the ruling BJP, Tuesday opposed in Lok Sabha the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020, saying it is against the interest of farmers of the country, especially those in Punjab.
Three farm sector-related ordinances were cleared by the Union Cabinet recently and the corresponding bills were tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday.
One of them -- the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 -- was taken up for a discussion on Tuesday and passed by a voice vote.
Participating in the debate, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said when the ordinance was being discussed in the Cabinet, his party colleague and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had raised objections and conveyed the concerns of farmers.
She had requested the ordinance be put off, but it was issued regardless, Sukhbir said.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the Union Food Processing Minister in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet.
The government should not have brought the ordinance without consulting farmers.
farm organisations, and parties like the SAD that have a substantial presence among the farming community, Sukhbir said, adding these stakeholders should have been taken on board.
Ever since the ordinance was issued "we have been asking the government not to press with it and not to bring this bill. But our voice was not heeded to," he said.
Underlining that he himself hails from a farming family, Sukhbir, in an emotive speech, said the SAD essentially is a party of farmers and has always championed their cause.
"The party's legacy cannot and will not be compromised or diluted, no matter what price we have to pay," he said, speaking in Punjabi.
The government on Monday had introduced 'The Farmers' Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill' and 'The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill', and 'The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill' to replace the ordinances promulgated earlier.
Expressing his concerns about all three bills, Badal said Punjab will be the worst affected state by these legislations.
"Punjab and Haryana have built best marketing infrastructure from their own resources. We will be the worst affected if the assured marketing of farmers' produce at MSP is endangered," he said.
He requested the Centre withhold these legislations and work to address the concerns of farmers, adding that the farming community in many states, including Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against these bills.
Later, speaking to the media, he said when the voting on the bill was taking place, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party MPs from Punjab were not present in house as he opposed the proposed legislation.