It’s extremely unfair that BJP leaders are calling protesting farmers Khalistani, Naxalites and anti-Indian, SAD leader Naresh Gujral tells Rajdeep Sardesai.
Farmers want the three farm laws repealed, while the government says it’s willing to address some concerns in the laws. (Photo: PTI)
Thursday was the 8th day of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march called by farmer unions from across the country, particularly from Punjab and Haryana. Thousands of farmers continued to camp on Delhi’s borders but there was no breakthrough during the talks between the Centre and farmers’ leaders that lasted more than seven hours on Thursday.
Farmers want the three farm laws repealed, while the government says it’s willing to address some concerns in the laws. The next round of talks will take place on Saturday.
What can end the deadlock over the three recent farm laws that have sparked India’s biggest farm protests in years? Has this become a political movement to corner the Narendra Modi government? On his show News Today at 9, India Today TV Consulting Editor Rajdeep Sardesai spoke to Naresh Gujral, Member of Parliament, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the issue. Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal decided to return his Padma Vibhushan award in protest against the farm laws. Your opponents say it’s a publicity stunt. How do you respond?
A: Parkash Singh Badal is the tallest leader of farmers since Chaudhary Charan Singh. He is 92. He has nothing to gain or lose. His decision to return his Padma Vibhushan award reflects his pain, anger, and anguish against the manner in which peaceful protests have been mishandled.
Q: Is Parkash Singh Badal trying to put moral pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
A: Yes, we’re trying to put pressure on the government. But it’s extremely unfair that the functionaries of the ruling party and nationalist leaders are calling these protesting farmers Khalistani, Naxalites, and anti-Indian. The children of these poor farmers are protecting our borders.
Q: Isn’t it correct to say that the Akali Dal has no option but to protest? Why didn’t you protest when you were with the NDA and when the laws were brought?
A: When the Ordinances were brought before the Cabinet, our MP and then central minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal protested vehemently. We were assured and reassured that before the bills were brought to Parliament, our apprehensions will be addressed. But we were shocked. We were the oldest alliance partner but we were kept in the dark. A surprise was sprung on us.