A day before the government's eighth round of talks with protesting farm unions, Shirmoani Akali Dal leader and former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the Centre has lost the trust of the entire farming community and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should directly talk to agitating farmers.
Expressing her anguish over the pain of farmers, Badal, leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's erstwhile ally, said, "It is strange that farmers are spending nights in open during the chilling winters and even then their demands are falling on deaf ears."
In an interview to PTI, Badal who resigned from Union cabinet in September last year when the three farm bills were being passed in Lok Sabha, said what farmers have gone through in last six-seven weeks, is the same what she went through when she was a Union Minister.
"...To avoid the situation which has arisen now and the protest, I kept pleading for months, whether it was in cabinet meetings or in direct meetings with top leaders of the central government that please listen to farmers before bringing these three bills as they are 'annadaatas' of the country, otherwise it would lead to agitations and protests. But my all pleas fell on to deaf ears," she said.
Asking who will be held responsible for deaths of farmers during the protest, Badal said the Centre has lost the trust of farmers across the country.
"Farmers are dying at the doorstep of the central government while protesting for their demands. Who will be responsible for deaths of 'annadaatas' of the country?" Badal said.
Talking about the ongoing meetings between protesting farmers and Centre, Badal said after seven rounds of meetings nothing concrete has come out.
"After several rounds of meetings if ministers are unable to resolve the farmers' issues then Prime Minister Narendra Modi should directly talk to protesting farmers," Badal said.
She also attacked the Congress-led Punjab government and state chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and said he has failed to fulfill his responsibility as guardian of the state and its people.
"Both the central and state governments are equal partners in this crime against farmers. While farmers were sitting on dharna, the chief minister of Punjab was having fun in his farmhouse.
"Captain Amarinder Singh has miserably failed to fulfil his responsibilities as chief minister of Punjab and as guardian of its people," Badal said.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal was Union food processing minister in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre and resigned when the bills were taken up for passage in Lok Sabha.
Her husband and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced her resignation in the lower house while participating in the debate on the three farm bills.
Days later, SAD also moved out of the ruling NDA breaking its decades-old alliance with the BJP.