In a further embarrassment for the Union government that is already facing a challenge to put an end to the farmers’ protest, Prakash Singh Badal, the former Chief Minister of Punjab and a former ally of the BJP, had decided to return his Padma Vibhushan award.
The decision has been taken by the SAD leader as a mark of protest against the newly enacted farm laws and to exhibit his solidarity with the protesting farmers. “I feel so poor that I do not have much else to sacrifice to express solidarity with the farmers’ cause,” he said, announcing his decision.
Badal said: “I owe everything to the farmers. I am who I am because of them. There is no point of holding on to honours if farmers are dishonoured. I am deeply pained by the betrayal on assurances given to farmers to address their apprehensions.”
Former Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has also returned his Padma Bhushan to protest against the government.
Second round of talks
The Union government is holding a meeting with the protesting farmers on the contentious farm laws. It expects to resolve the eight-day-long protest that saw thousands of farmers camping around the national capital. The farmers have demanded a special session of parliament to repeal the laws, saying this is the “last chance” for the government.
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Notably, the first round of discussions remained inconclusive. On December 1, talks between both the sides ended in a stalemate after farmers’ groups rejected the government’s suggestion of a new committee to look into issues raised by farmers protesting against the new laws.
The government had rejected the demand for repealing the laws and asked the farmers’ bodies to identify specific issues related to the newly enacted Acts and submit those by December 2 for consideration and discussion on Thursday.
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