Chandigarh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday slammed the Centre for what he called “forcing the farm legislations on the nation as part of a conspiracy to destroy farmers and Punjab, of which the Akalis were a part”.
“I don’t know what enmity the BJP and the Akalis have with Punjab and why they are out to destroy us,” said the Chief Minister while virtually launching the Kisan Mela at the Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana.
The launch was held through virtual connectivity at 100 locations in which farmers, farmer representatives and other stakeholders, including Ministers, MLAs and state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, participated.
Warning again that the legislations will lead to growing angst among the people in the border state, thus giving Pakistan the opportunity to stoke fire, Amarinder Singh said the anti-farmer move will spoil the ‘abo hawa’ (environment) of Punjab.
Delhi has to rethink on this issue, he stressed, adding that the legislations would undo the sacrifices made by Punjab and its farmers over 65 years to make India self-sufficient in food.
Accusing the Akalis of playing their own political games in this entire affair, Amarinder Singh asked the Badals why the SAD had failed to stand with the Punjab government on these Bills and even on the critical water issue.
“Did you not think even once what will happen to Punjab without agriculture and water?” he asked the Akalis, pointing out that with the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal issue hanging over the state, the situation was perilous and the SAD had only contributed to the crisis by supporting the farm ordinances.
The Chief Minister said that notwithstanding the Centre’s denials, these new laws will eventually pave the way for the elimination of the MSP regime and end of the Food Corporation of India, leaving the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, as recommended by the Shanta Kumar committee.
Strongly opposing the legislations, the Chief Minister also trashed the Centre’s contention that the MSP regime will not be tampered with, saying it was a constitutional guarantee given by Parliament which, in fact, the NDA government was trying to destroy with their brute majority.
Even the Minimum Support Price (MSP) already announced on items like maize has not been given to the farmers, he noted, questioning the sincerity of the government of India.
Categorically rejecting the BJP and SAD claims that Punjab was on board with the farm ordinances, Amarinder Singh made it clear that the issue of any such ordinances or new laws on agriculture was never discussed at any of the meetings in which his government was represented at the high-powered committee set up by the Centre on agricultural reforms.
“Politicians should not lie on such grave issues that have serious implications for our future generations,” said Amarinder Singh, in an obvious reference to the alleged false and misleading claims of Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve and SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal.
“Politics aside, this is an issue concerning the future of our children,” he added.
These dangerous and vicious Bills have been passed by the Centre due to a brute majority in the Lok Sabha, he pointed out, adding that India’s future generations will not forgive the damage inflicted on the nation by the NDA and its allies.
The high-powered committee was clearly an eyewash, the Chief Minister said, waving the draft report shared with Punjab which allegedly made no mention whatsoever of the ordinances.
His government’s response to the draft report had, in fact, clearly listed its stand on the reforms, he added.
Taking a dig at Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s remarks of standing with her ‘farmer brethren’ by resigning from the Union Cabinet, Amarinder Singh asked why did she forgot about her farmer brothers when the Centre brought in the ordinances.
“Had the SAD stood with my government at the outset and put pressure on their ally, the BJP, the current situation may not have arisen,” he added.
Pointing out that it was Punjab and its farmers who toiled and shed blood and sweat to make the nation food surplus, Amarinder Singh said that Punjab had saved the nation from going hungry through the years even though it was a small state.
Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, all the food grain distributed to the poor around the country came from Punjab’s godowns, he noted.