Sitting at your door: Ex-ally scoffs at PM’s phone call away offer to farmers

Sitting at your door: Ex-ally scoffs at PM’s phone call away offer to farmers

New Delhi: The Shiromani Akali Dal, the erstwhile partner in the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, walked out of Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget presentation in Parliament over the farm laws impasse. Harsimrat Badal, the former food supplies minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, termed it “unfortunate” that the government is still talking about phone calls when farmers are sitting at their doorstep.
The former ally and minister said it is “shameful” that the farmers are sitting out in the cold for months but there was no mention of them in either the President Ram Nath Kovind’s joint address to Parliament or PM Modi’s monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat.

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“Hundred people have died. For three months they have been sitting, literally, at the doorstep waiting to be heard. I am surprised he is still waiting for a phone call. The need of the hour was to listen after 11 rounds of talks and give them assurance that no more need to die… We are still talking about phone calls, it is very unfortunate,” Harsimrat Badal told Hindustan Times.
“Unbecoming of any parliamentarian to behave in this fashion,” said BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi over the Akalis’ decision to walk out of the Budget presentation.
At the all-party meet on Sunday, PM Modi said the government was only a “phone call away” for talks with farmers who have been involved in a weeks-long agitation over the three farm laws.

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The PM, who chaired the virtual meeting, referred to Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s remarks after the 11th meeting between the government and the farm bodies that he was just a phone call away and will come whenever the farmer leaders want to discuss keeping the laws in abeyance.
Eighteen opposition parties boycotted President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to both houses of Parliament on Friday, the inaugural day of the Budget Session, to protest against the farm laws.

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