Monday, June 14, 2021

Punjab cabinet authorises Capt Amarinder to take any legislative decision to protect farmers’ rights

Amid total consensus among Punjab Congress MLAs on the need to reject the Farm Laws outright and not implement them in the state, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday called for a frontal attack against the legislations, even as he was authorized by his council of ministers to take any legislative/legal decision he may deem fit to protect the interests of the farmers.

The Cabinet decided that a strategy to counter the black Farm Laws will be finalized ahead of the 2-day special session of the Vidhan Sabha, beginning on Monday.

“This fight will go on, we will fight this till the Supreme Court,” the Chief Minister earlier said at a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP). Referring to the demand raised by many Kisan Unions some days back for an immediate session of the Assembly, the Chief Minister said this could not be done earlier as all legal implications had to be examined thoroughly before taking any step.

The Chief Minister said the views of the MLAs would be taken into account while finalising the strategy to battle the Farm Laws, in consultation with legal and independent experts, including senior lawyers and AICC leader P Chidambaram. He said the whole world was watching Punjab with a lot of expectation and the views of the MLAs were extremely important for drafting a comprehensive strategy to protect the state’s farmers and agriculture. The fight will continue till the Supreme Court, he said.

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Making it clear that the fight, for the Congress, was not about politics but to save Punjab’s agriculture and its farmers, Captain Amarinder said any decision will be taken in the interest of the farming community. Taking a dig at the Akalis, the Chief Minister said the Congress was not double faced and had a clear stand on the issue of the Farm Laws.

His own stand was also clear, he said, adding that contrary to what the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leaders had been claiming, Punjab was not consulted at any point on the new legislations. Recalling that it was only after he wrote to the Prime Minister that Punjab was included in the Committee formed by the Union Government to discuss agricultural reforms, the Chief Minister said the first meeting of the panel had already been held by that time. The issue was not discussed at the second meeting of the Committee, attended  by Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, while at the third meeting, attended by officials, a one-line diktat was issued, with no mention anywhere of the Ordinances, he added.

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Earlier, the Punjab Congress MLAs were unanimous in their opinion that the Centre’s anti-farmer legislations should be totally rejected and the state should make suitable amendments to provide for strict action, including imprisonment, for those who purchase wheat or paddy at less than the MSP.

Several legislators stressed the need for aggressively countering the false propaganda being spread by opposition parties against the state government and the party on the issue of the Farm Laws. MSP and Mandi system had to be protected at all costs, and the unconstitutional laws, which were against federalism, had to be countered effectively, they said. The message needs to go out clearly and unequivocally, that the Farm Laws are not acceptable to Punjab, they said.

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