In a gesture that hinted that the leaders of Punjab have the back of their farmers protesting against the agri laws in Delhi, the state’s former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday (December 3) returned his Padma Vibhushan award, while accusing the Centre of “betraying” the farmers.
Chief of Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also returned his Padma Bhusan award in support of the farmers’ demands.
Badal’s decision came just after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met Home Minister Amit Shah and urged him to resolve the issue at the earliest.
Badal, 92, is the first chief minister to have returned his Padma award, which he was conferred in 2015.
His party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the oldest ally of the NDA withdrew from the alliance in September when the Centre passed the three contentious farm laws.
Dhindsa who broke away from SAD over political differences, was awarded the Padma Bhusan in 2019.
“I have returned my Padma Bhushan in protest as farmers have been staging dharnas for the past two months but the central government is not ready to listen to them. When the BJP government is ignoring our elderly people, who have shifted their protest to Delhi borders, the award is worthless to me,” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.
The Punjab chief minister on Thursday termed the protests a “national security issue” and urged both the protesters and the Centre to work out an amicable solution.
“Discussion is going on between farmers and Centre, there’s nothing for me to resolve. I reiterated my opposition in my meeting with Home Minister and requested him to resolve the issue as it affects the economy of my state and security of the nation,” NDTV quoted Singh as saying after his meeting with Shah.
On Tuesday, a group of Padma and Arjuna awardee sportspersons from the state had announced that they will return their awards to the President on December 5 in support of the protest by the farmers.