CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday termed the presidential assent to the contentious farm legislations and the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill as "Sad, disappointing and extremely unfortunate".
In a statement here, Badal said it was a "dark day for the country, as the President refused to act as the nation's conscience". He also claimed that only the SAD was a farmers' party, not the BJP or the Congress.
"We were very hopeful that the President will return these Bills to Parliament for reconsideration as demanded by the SAD and some other opposition parties," he said, adding that his party will chalk out the next course of action after due deliberations.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave assent to three contentious farm bills that have triggered protests, especially in Punjab and Haryana.
A SAD delegation led by Badal had met the President, urging him not to give his assent to the farm Bills and return them to Parliament for reconsideration.
The SAD on Saturday quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the farm legislations and the non-inclusion of Punjabi as official language in Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill.
The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, provides for inclusion of Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi in the list of official languages, in addition to Urdu and English.
The SAD chief also lamented that before drafting the farm legislations, his party was not consulted by the government.
"There is only one party in the country which is called the party of farmers, poor and khet mazdoor (farm labour)," he claimed while addressing party workers at Rupnagar.
Neither the Congress, nor the BJP can be called farmers' parties, he claimed. He said the farm Bills, if implemented, will not only affect farmers but also farm workers and arhtiyas (commission agents).
The SAD chief called upon all political parties and organisations to close ranks for a united fight.
"We are ready to join or follow any struggle in the overall interest of farmers, farm labour, arhtiyas and other farm produce traders," said Badal.
Badal said the country needed to understand and empathise with farmers in view of the "pathetic conditions" in which they are living.
"Anything like the new farm legislations which increases the uncertainty over the fate of farmers' produce can have disastrous implications not only for the economy but also for social stability in the country," he said.
"The farmers' economic plight affects the entire economy. Therefore, what we are fighting for is to protect the country's wider national interests," he said.
Badal also addressed party workers at Hoshiarpur and Phagwara in order to mobilise people for a Kisan march on October 1. He reiterated his party's firm commitment to preserving peace, communal harmony and fraternity in Punjab.