Punjab CM Asks Farmers to Avoid Protests in the State, But Unions Aren't Convinced

The government and people of Punjab, Amarinder Singh said, have stood by the agitating farmers from the start.

Hoshiarpur: Urging representatives of farmers’ unions to avoid protests in the state against the three draconian farm laws and rather mount pressure on the Union government, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh Monday said that the state government has already expressed solidarity with farmers on this issue.

Singh said that the state – where everyone stood behind farmers like a rock – should desist from holding protests, since the controversial farm laws were passed by the Union government without taking anyone else’s opinion.

The chief minister made this statement during his address after laying the foundation stone of a government college in Mukhliana village, in the Chabbewal assembly constituency of Hoshiarpur district.

Singh said at present, farmers were holding protests at 113 different places in Punjab. This, he continued, is not in the interests of the state and has considerably impacted economic development. He hoped his request would be agreed to by the agitating farmers. “Mount pressure on the Union government instead of holding protests against the state government, and get the three black farm laws repealed. There is no point affecting Punjab’s economy,” he added.

The chief minister said that these laws have already been rejected in the state assembly and replaced by the state government’s farm laws, which were sent to the Punjab governor for his assent. “Congress was the only party which protested against the farm laws right from day one. Our government convened a special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and passed bills countering the farm laws. But to our dismay these have not yet been forwarded to the president of India. We did whatever we could do to support our farmers. Anything within the purview of my government was done by us promptly,” he said.

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He also pointed out that a delegation of various leaders from the farmers’ unions met him recently in Chandigarh to get the price of sugarcane hiked from Rs 325 to Rs 360 per quintal, and the same was accepted by him at once.

Singh expressed concern over the inordinate delay in farmers demands being met. The constitution has been amended 127 times since 1950 – “So why not one more time to repeal the farm laws for providing succour to the farmers who have been sitting at Singhu and Tikri borders?” he asked.

Earlier, Singh had lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for double-crossing farmers on the farm laws, and said that the laws were drafted with SAD’s consent as Harsimrat Kaur Badal was then a Union minister in the Modi government. “Even former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was arguing in favour of these laws but they changed their tune completely when their move backfired,” he added.

Reacting to Singh’s statement, Harsimrat tweeted, “Capt Amarinder tells farmers to fight their battles in Delhi, not Punjab! He relaxes in his plush palace while our farmers are dying roughing it out on roads of Delhi in extreme weather conditions over last 10 months. This was his plan all along.”

Even AAP Punjab spokesperson Neel Garg questioned Singh’s statement in a video message. He said, “Every section of society, be it farmers, students or traders, will be impacted by these farm laws. Is CM Amarinder Singh trying to create a wedge between traders and farmers? And if the CM is so concerned about the economic condition of the state, then he should share that how many new industries have been set up in the state? Rather than assisting farmers and protesting against the union government, CM seems to be siding with PM Modi.”

Senior leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, president of the Krantikari Kisan Union Darshan Pal and BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) state secretary Shingara Singh Mann, also said Singh’s plea was wrong.

Pal asked that when the farmers’ issues were related to their state, should they stage a dharna in Punjab or Rajasthan? “Who is he to give such a suggestion? It is for the farmers’ unions to decide where will they hold protests. If the protest is against the corporates, the toll plazas and the BJP in Punjab, farmers will obviously hold them the state only. People are protesting against Capt Amarinder’s bad governance, non-performance and failure to set up any agro based industry. Since there has been no development, people are protesting. Ultimately, Capt Amarinder also wants to serve the corporates,” he added.

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On the other hand, Mann said that by making such a statement, instead of focusing on the Union government, farmers’ protests will rather intensify against Singh. “CM Amarinder failed to fulfil any of the poll promises. He took oath of Guru Granth Sahib and didn’t do anything. Where is ‘ghar ghar naukri’ and ‘farm loan debt waiver’? People are angry with him and he should rather focus on solving their problems.”

On the debt waiver, the chief minister claimed in his address that the state government has waived the farm loans of 5.64 lakh farmers up to Rs 2 lakh at a cost of Rs 4,624 crore, thus fulfilling another major poll promise.

The chief minister also announced that a new umbrella programme, ‘Kamyaab Kisan Khushaal Punjab (K3P) Mission’, was launched with an aim of improvement in the income of those dependent on agriculture on a sustainable basis while preserving the ecological balance for future generations at a cost of Rs 3,780 crore to be implemented during next three years (2021-24). He handed over debt waiver certificates to 75 farm labourers and landless farmers as a symbolic launch of this scheme in Hoshiarpur district.