Former BJP ally and NDA founder-member Parkash Singh Badal has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day ahead of the all-India strike in support of protesting farmers, and advised him stay away from confrontation. In a letter to PM Modi, Mr Badal had cited the days of Emergency and “dictatorship” and sought his personal intervention to resolve the stalemate. An amicable solution should be achieved through consensus with all the stakeholders, including the farmers and the states, he wrote.
“Consultation, conciliation and consensus are the foundation of any democracy. Consultative processes alone lead to consensus and consensus alone is the recipe for avoiding confrontations like the one we see now between the government and the farmers,” Mr Badal’s letter read.
“I have battled against dictatorship in the Emergency days. My experience tells me that respect for peaceful democratic values offer us the best solutions to even the most complex and intractable problems,” wrote the 92-year-old.
The strongly-worded letter also questioned the government’s failure to call an all-party meeting when it became clear that the Centre’s new farm sector laws have been decisively rejected by the farmers.
The failure to consult states on an issue that affects 70 per cent of the population “shows the government’s indifference or rejection of the federal principles”, Mr Badal wrote.
This was “unbelievable”, Mr Badal wrote, as PM Modi had been “among the biggest champions of federal structure” as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, advocating “more power and a greater role for states in running the country”.
It is “hard to believe” that a government with such a “massive mandate” allowed such failure in decision making, he wrote in the letter, where he also applauded the statesmanship of NDA’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Mr Badal, whose Shiromani Akali Dal had parted company with the NDA over the farmers’ issue, returned his Padma Vibhushan award to the government last week to protest the Haryana government’s use of force against the Delhi-bound farmers.
His warning comes a day ahead of the all-India strike called by farmers, which has found support not only among opposition parties but also trade and transport unions, organisations including bar associations and media houses and market associations.
The farmers, who arrived by thousands at the borders of Delhi, demanding that the farm laws be scrapped by a special session of parliament, have declared that they would blockade Delhi tomorrow and allow passage to none except emergency services.
Five rounds of meeting between the Centre and the farmers have already failed. The farmers have turned down the government’s offer of amending the laws and the formation of a special committee with all stakeholders to examine the issue. A sixth meeting will take place on Wednesday.