“I feel so poor that I do not have much else to sacrifice to express solidarity with the farmers’ cause.” Badal
I OWE EVERYTHING TO FARMERS. I AM WHO I AM BECAUSE OF THEM. NO POINT HOLDING ON TO HONOURS IF FARMERS ARE DISHONOURED”
“ DEEPLY PAINED BY BETRAYAL ON ASSURANCES GIVEN TO
FARMERS TO ADDRESS THEIR APPREHENSIONS”
COMES DOWN HEAVILY ON COMMUNAL OR SEPRATIST INSINUATIONS AGAINST FARMERS
WARNS AGAINST DANGERS TO SECUALR FABRIC :
BATS FOR FEDERAL STRUCTURE:“STATES ALONE CAN ADDRESS PEOPLE’S GRIEVANCES, INCLDUING FARMERS’”
Chandigarh Dec 3 – Akali stalwart, former Union Minister and five time Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Parkash Badal today returned the Padam Vibhushan award “in protest against “the betrayal of the farmers by the Government of India’s and against the shocking indifference and contempt with which the Govt 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 has lost more than his honour, I see no point in holding on to the Padma Vibhushan honour”said the Akali stalwart in his letter to the president Ram Nath Kovind.
Badal described the betrayal of the farmers by the government as “bolts from the blue on the already beleaguered peasantry of the country” adding that ”farmer finds himself waging bitter struggles in severe cold just to secure his fundamental right to live . “
In a letter written in a deeply emotional and painful strain and e-mailed to the President this morning, Mr Badal said,” After Panthic ideals of peace and communal harmony, farmers have been my second religious passion. Everything I have, everything I take pride in, every moment of glory or every office of public service that has been bestowed on me during my long public career has been purely because of my commitment to these ideals in which farmers have remained at the center of everything.
“ When the country honoured me with Padam Vibhushan, I knew that it was only in acknowledgement of my commitment to the people in which the farmers featured most prominently. I owe it to them,” he said,
In his letter 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 Ordnances, assurances were given that the farmers’ apprehensions on these Ordinances 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.”
The former Chief Minister described the period after betrayal as “the most painful and embarrassing moment in my 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.”
Badal said that he has been “ deeply pained also by the communal insinuations being thrown at the peacefully and democratically protesting farmers.” He said that the farmers of the country “have secular ethos running in their blood and they are the best guarantee for safeguarding the country’s secular, democratic values and character which face serious challenges from some other quarters.”
He as “an optimist, he hoped that the President would use his good offices to tell the govt to win the confidence of farmers as well as strengthen the secular democratic fabric of our great country.”
Badal reminded the president that he “presides over the destiny of a population 70% of whom are farmers. For over 70 years, these farmers have been serving the country as its “Annadata” with the most selfless and self effacing humility.”
He said that “that the country owes a huge and almost irrepayable debt to them. When the country faced hunger and humiliation in the sixties, having to beg for food in world capitals, the Government turned to the farmers to pull it out of starvation. The farmers toiled hard to turn the country from a food-begging to a food exporting country.” The tide was turned principally by Punjab with Green Revolution. But in the process, he sacrificed the only two natural assets he had: soil fertility and water.”
He regretted that the government remains indifferent to te 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. Tragically, no such sensitivity towards the farmers’ pain and anger is visible here.” He hoped 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 as I have been. “
Badal said that “even before these Acts were passed, the poor farmers had already been in the grip of sever crisis throughout the country. Agriculture was never a lucrative profession in our country as the costs of agricultural inputs had been rising steeply with while there has been just meager hike or no hike on the prices of agricultural produce. But in recent years, the crisis deepened with farmers unable to meet the rising costs of inputs and were driven to draw unbearable loans just to be able to keep feeding their families.
Mr Badal regretted 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.”
Badal came down heavily against 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. Instead, the country chose to let its Annadata die.”
Badal described the “the Black Laws now implemented by the Govt” as “the proverbial last nail in the coffin of the country’s annadata. The farmers are out on the streets battling police batons, tear gas shells and water cannons even as their sources of livelihood dry up. They have come to the national Capital from all over the country, leaving their fields, crops and even their families and travelled long distances – thousands of kilometers in some cases – to get the attention of their own government. They have shown incredible and unprecedented restraint, maturity and responsibility in keeping their protests totally peaceful and democratic.
The former Chief Minister said that he had been deeply pained to see ”conspiracies and vicious propaganda are unleashed to paint this peaceful struggle as anti-national.
Recalling “ a long and often painful struggles” of his party Shiromani Akali Dal for greater autonomy to states under a genuinely federal structure in the country, Badal said that”the states should have the resources to look after their people – in Punjab’s case, predominantly the farmers.” During the course of these struggles I have spent long years in jails – probably the longest ever by any political figure in free India