Terming the legislation a direct and deliberate assault by the Centre on the interests of the farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said the State Congress will challenge the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, which was passed in the Lok Sabha today, in the court of law.
Riding roughshod over the concerns of the farmers, the central government, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a constituent, has imposed a central law on a state subject, thus eroding the federal structure of the country, said the Chief Minister. “We will challenge it in court,” he said.
Asserting that he will not allow the interests of the farmers to be compromised in this shameless manner, Captain Amarinder said the enactment of the legislation is clearly a step towards abolition of the MSP regime. “It is a conspiracy on the part of the BJP-led NDA government to destroy Punjab and its farmers,” he said, declaring that the Congress will fight this attack on the state’s interests tooth and nail.
“The legislation talks of encouraging competition among farmers. Do they really expect the poor farmers, who are only competing with themselves for survival every day, to rival big corporates for protecting their interests?” asked the Chief Minister.
Noting that the enactment, along with the other two Farm Ordinances that the Centre has already tabled in the Lok Sabha, was in line with the recommendations of the Shanta Kumar committee, Captain Amarinder pointed out that the same committee had also suggested dismantling of the MSP regime. It is evident that the NDA government is now moving towards the elimination of the MSP system, which is the lifeline of the farmers, he said, adding that the Punjab Congress will not allow the interests of the farming community to be trampled in this manner. The very survival of the farmers is at stake, he warned.
The Chief Minister also took on SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, who was reportedly present in the House when the Bill was passed by voice vote, for failing to protect the interests of Punjab’s farmers, whose messiah he claimed his party to be. Sukhbir and his SAD were clearly party to the treachery of the Union Government, which has paved the way, through the passage of this Bill, for taking away the rights of the farmers, who have fed the nation and given it food security for decades, he added.
“Will you quit the ruling coalition at the Centre, or will you continue to wait outside their doors for any crumbs they throw your way?” Captain Amarinder asked Sukhbir, adding that the Akalis had totally and irrevocably failed their own state yet again.
Taking a dig at Sukhbir’s remarks that SAD would live up to the legacy of senior party leaders who had stood with the farmers before him, the Chief Minister said the only legacy that the incumbent Akali chief was promoting was of a party that will always put its own interests over those of Punjab’s people, particularly the farmers.