Sunday, June 13, 2021

Capt Amarinder vows to fight till his last breath to protect Punjab farmers’ interests

Vowing to fight till his last breath to protect the interests of the state’s farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said his government will take the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies, including the Akalis, to court over the new unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-farmer laws of the central government.

“We will move the courts and fight the draconian legislations as soon as they get the presidential nod and become the law of the land,” he said, expressing shock at the way the BJP-led Union Government brute-forced the Agriculture Bills through the Rajya Sabha today.

The Chief Minister questioned the rationale behind putting the controversial and vicious Bills, which were a blatant encroachment of the State’s powers and control of the Agriculture sector, to voice vote, despite strong reservations by the Opposition and inadequate numbers in the House. Why did the House not go for division of votes on this critical issue, which has even divided the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he asked.

Captain Amarinder said that his government will not allow the central government, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) continues shamelessly to be a part, to trample the rights and interests of the farmers through these cruel legislations designed to destroy the farmers, and Punjab state for which agriculture is its lifeline. “We stand with the farmers and will do whatever it takes to protect their interests,” he declared.

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“They (BJP and its allies) clearly don’t care for what these laws will do to the farmers,” he said, flaying the BJP led government for selling the interests of the farmers to big corporates.

BJP’s so-called `watershed’ moment will be the death of Agriculture and will endanger the nation’s food security, warned the Chief Minister. By pushing the Bills through without consultation with the key stakeholders and even without taking the government of Punjab, a major contributor to India’s agricultural sector growth, into confidence, the Central Government had shown that it had no concern whatsoever for the farmers or the farm sector, he said.

Pointing out that the Bills nowhere make any mention of retaining the MSP, Captain Amarinder said this clearly exposes the ill intent of the Central Government, which has a poor trust record as far as states go. If they could not adhere to the clearly defined provisions on GST, how can one trust them to uphold their verbal assurances on MSP, he questioned.

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The Chief Minister asked ‘if these legislations are actually revolutionary and in the interests of farmers, why are the farmers out on the roads in protest?’ The farmers are not fools and would not be marching to Delhi, braving a pandemic, if they did not find the Bills damaging and detrimental to their interests, he said.

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Every single provision of these Bills, said Captain Amarinder, was crafted to destroy lakhs of small and marginal farmers in particular, who could not hope to compete in the monopolistic system that the Centre aimed to bring into the sector. “Where will these poor farmers go to sell their produce with the states no longer the pivotal players in the entire agricultural marketing system,” he asked.

Pointing out that these farmers were nowhere near getting the Government-mandated MSP on their foodgrains in the open market that exists even today to a limited extent, the Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that instead of strengthening the State-led marketing system, as the Congress had promised in its manifesto, the central government had chosen to end it completely.

Captain Amarinder also lashed out at the Opposition for continuing to mislead the farmers by spread misinformation on the Congress manifesto of 2019 LS polls, which spoke of repeal of existing APMC Act in order to bring a new, improved legislation that would provide for more markets and more facilities for procurement of the farmers’ produce. What is more, the Congress manifesto clearly and categorically promised to retain the MSP regime, which the BJP government is refusing to do, he added.

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