Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, three years ago, passed the same farm laws in the state Assembly that the union government passed recently, said Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today.
Mr Badal said that the Congress party, in its 2019 general election manifesto, had promised to abolish government mandis.
“I do not share the views of Captain Amarinder Singh because he has passed the same laws in his own Assembly. The farm sector laws, which the union government is implementing were passed three years back by Captain Amarinder Singh in the Punjab Legislative Assembly,” the SAD president said when asked if he shares the view of Punjab government on farmers’ protest.
“Congress manifesto for 2019 general elections brought under Rahul Gandhi’s presidentship mentioned that they will implement these laws. In fact, they went one step further and said that if they come to power they will scrap all government mandis. They said that they will only have private mandis which is worse than what the current government is doing. So, I do not share their views,” Mr Badal added.
Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting on the borders of Delhi, demanding that the three laws, which the Narendra Modi-led government passed recently, be repealed. Farmers say the reform laws will dilute rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce.
“I share views of the farmers which are very clear. You make laws for people and you are doing what people do not want,” said Mr Badal, whose party pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in September this year against the farm laws enacted by the union government.
Earlier on October 20 this year, Captain Amarinder Singh had led the passage of three legislations in the state Assembly that sought to negate the impact of the farm laws passed by Parliament in September.
The bills included the Farmers” (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Earlier on August 4, 2017, the Punjab government had given a nod to the ”Punjab State Farmers and Farm Labourers Commission Act, 2017” through an ordinance with a stated resolve to empower and safeguard the interests of the farming community.
The five-member commission, with a nominated chairperson, was entrusted the powers to frame agriculture policy and other matters referred to by the government. The commission was stated to have a corpus fund of Rs 25 crore initially and Rs 5 crore for next five years grant to be given by the state government. The commission has the mandate to submit its report to be tabled in the Punjab Assembly.
Earlier on Thursday, Captain Amarinder Singh met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and urged the union government to rethink its stand on the legislations while appealing to the farmers to find an early solution to the problem that was adversely impacting the state”s economy and also posed a serious danger to national security.
Punjab Chief Minister during the meeting stressed that the problems of farmers need to be solved quickly.
Amarinder Singh said that he and his Congress government were not involved in mediation in any way and the matter had to be resolved between the union government and the farmers.
“A solution has to be found at the earliest,” he said, adding that he had come to meet the Union Home Minister to reiterate Punjab’s stand on the imbroglio between the farmers and the central government, as well as the need to secure the future of the farming community and agriculture.
Notably, SAD had withdrawn support to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in September this year against the farm laws enacted by the union government.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ protest against the three agricultural sector laws passed by the central government in the last monsoon session entered the eighth day on Thursday with demonstrations on Sant Nirankari Samagam ground in Burari on the outskirts of Delhi and other border areas.
A delegation of farmers is meeting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday, said Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union.
“A delegation of farmers will meet the Agriculture Minister on Thursday. If the government wants, it can resolve the issues. All farmer organisations across the country should take to the streets now,” said Mr Tikait.
“The Prime Minister said many times that minimum support price will be protected, so what’s the problem in putting it in writing? Farmers will go back once their demands are met,” said a protesting farmer at the Singhu border.
The government had held the third round of talks with farmer representatives on Tuesday. During the talks, the Centre offered to set up a committee, which the farmers” unions rejected, and instead demanded a special session of parliament to repeal what they have called “black laws” made to favour corporate bodies. Farmers said they will continue their protest till their issues are resolved.
The Union Agriculture Minister had maintained that the farm laws are in the interest of farmers and the reforms have been done after a long wait and the government is ready to address their concerns.
Notably, farmers have warned that Thursday’s talks are the “last chance” for the government to take a decision on the laws.
“Thursday is the last chance for the government to take a decision to repeal the laws. Otherwise, this movement will become huge and the government will fall,” Pratibha Shinde of the Lok Sangharsh Morcha said.
The farmers are protesting against The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
(If you like reading The Outlooker, please consider subscribing to us below. Subscriptions are free for first 500 subscribers.)