CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the BJP's oldest ally, on Tuesday announced road blockades across Punjab on September 25 to protest against the contentious farm Bills passed by Parliament.
Rajya Sabha passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 during the day.
It had cleared the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 on Sunday.
The Bills had been passed by Lok Sabha last week.
"It has been decided to hold a 'chakka jaam' (road blockade) on September 25 in Punjab against these farm Bills," SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema said.
He said the party's senior leaders, workers, farmers and farm labourers would block roads in the state for three hours from 11 am in a peaceful manner.
Notably, around 30 farmers' outfits have already given a call for a complete shutdown in Punjab on September 25 in protest against the Bills.
Party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal would launch a four-day state-wide mass contact programme on September 26 during which he would make party workers aware about the "adverse impact" of these Bills on the farming community, Cheema said.
He added that on October 1, the party leadership would present to the Punjab governor a memorandum addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind.
An appeal would be made to take back these Bills, Cheema said.
A Shiromani Akali Dal delegation on Monday had urged the President to come to the rescue of farmers and farm labourers by not giving his assent to the farm Bills.
Last week, SAD leader and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against the Bills.
Meanwhile, days after resigning from the Union Cabinet, SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Monday said farmers in Punjab are forced to sell cotton below the MSP because of a lack of procurement by Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), a central government agency.
On the same day, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal led a delegation to President Ram Nath Kovind and urged him to not give his consent to the "anti-farmer bills passed in Parliament by force."
"We urged him to stand by the beleaguered farmers, farm and mandi labourers, Dalits in their hour of need. We requested him to send back those bills to Parliament for reconsideration so that neither the hasty decisions taken in a fleeting moment of stubbornness leave permanent scars on the nation's psyche nor inflict a deep wound on the long-term vital interests of farmers and labourers," Sukhbir Badal told reporters after submitting the memorandum.
Speaking against the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, Sukhbir Badal had announced in Lok Sabha last week that his wife and SAD's lone representative in the Union Cabinet Harsimrat Badal would resign.
Harsimrat Badal resigned Thursday amidst a discussion on the farm bills in Lok Sabha, which were passed in the lower house the same day with a voice vote.
The bills were passed in Rajya Sabha on Sunday.
Continuing with her party's demand for ensuring MSP to farmers, Harsimrat Badal in a tweet on Monday raised the issue of "distress sale" of cotton by farmers and assured them the support of Akali Dal in their struggle.
"Condemnable how despite the provision of minimum support price (MSP) for cotton, Punjab farmers are forced to go in for distress sale far below that price due to lack of Cotton Corporation of India procurement," she said.
Attacking Congress government in Punjab, she said it failed to take this up with the Cotton Corporation of India.
Sukhbir on Monday rejected the Centre's hike of Rs 50 per quintal in the minimum support price of wheat by the Centre.
Badal described the hike as "utterly inadequate", saying this came as a "huge disappointment" to the farmers who are already battling "unremunerative prices" of their produce.
For other crops, the minimum support prices announced by the Centre is "meaningless" in the absence of assured procurement of those crops, the SAD chief said in a statement.
He said the increase in MSPs would not even cover the increased costs of inputs, including diesel.
The Centre on Monday hiked the MSP for buying six rabi crops, including wheat, by up to six per cent.
The MSP of wheat has been hiked by Rs 50 to Rs 1,975 per quintal.
The MSPs of lentil (masoor), gram, barley, safflower and mustard/rapeseed have also been increased.