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Amarinder vs Khattar: Political bickering continues between Punjab, Haryana CMs on farmers' stir

Khattar has claimed said that he had tried to talk to his Punjab counterpart on many occasions over telephone on the 'Delhi Chalo' march by farmers' protesting the Central farm reform laws.

Published: 30th November 2020 08:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2020 08:12 AM   |  A+A-

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (L) and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (L) and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar (File photos| PTI)

By PTI

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday hit back at his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar over allegations that he did not respond to repeated calls made over the farmers' issue, asking why the latter did not use official channels to contact him.

The Punjab CM also trashed the call records released by Khattar, claiming to be proof of attempts made to get in touch with him, as "complete fraud", saying by this the Haryana chief minister has exposed his "deception" even more sharply.

"If at all someone from his (Khattar's) office called my residence, why were the calls made to an attendant? Why were official channels not used to get in touch with me?" Singh posed.

Flaunting a page of his own office register cannot condone Khattar's lies, he said in a statement here.

"Top officials of the Punjab government, at the principal secretary and DGP levels among others, have been in touch with each other on the farmers' issue for the past several days. Yet none of these officials conveyed Khattar's desire to talk to me at any point in time," Amarinder Singh said.

Khattar has claimed said that he had tried to talk to his Punjab counterpart on many occasions over telephone on the 'Delhi Chalo' march by farmers' protesting the Central farm reform laws.

"Now, when the record has been shown as to how many times I tried to speak to him, he (Amarinder) has no answer," Khattar had said earlier in the day.

Khattar had claimed that despite wanting to talk to Amarinder Singh over the issue, he did not respond even when telephone calls to his office were made for three days.

The Punjab chief minister hit back and asked Khattar to "stop lying".

"How many times in the past has Khattar used the attendant channel to get in touch with me? In any case, I have an attendant to receive calls at my residence only from 9 am to 5 pm, as I don't believe in ill-treating my staff members. Khattar could simply have picked up the phone and called me on my mobile phone," Singh said.

Accusing Khattar of having "no serious intent" of discussing farmers' protest, he said, "If I can talk to a whole lot of central leaders, right from prime minister, on the issue of the farmers' protest, why would I try to wriggle out of talking to Khattar on the same."

Singh also lashed out at Khattar over remarks he would hold his Punjab counterpart responsible if farmers' gathering on the state's borders with Delhi leads to an aggravation of the COVID-19 situation in the state.

"If he (Khattar) was so concerned about farmers spreading coronavirus in Haryana, whose track record in the pandemic remains extremely poor, he should not have stopped them within the state, but should have allowed them to move quickly to Delhi," the Punjab chief minister said.

On Khattar's remark that farmers should not block Haryana's borders, Singh said it was the Haryana government and its police that have been blocking the borders for the past three days by forcibly stopping the farmers from proceeding.

Amarinder Singh also flayed Khattar's persistent denial of use of force by Haryana Police and noted that the Haryana chief minister's "lies" on the issue have been totally exposed by the Haryana farmers themselves.

They haved not only rejected their chief minister's claims that no farmer from Haryana had joined the march but had shown their ID cards, duly issued by the Haryana government, the Punjab CM said.

Khattar on Sunday said he would hold his Punjab counterpart responsible if farmers' gathering on the state's borders with Delhi leads to an aggravation of the COVID-19 situation in the state.

Khattar made the assertion while pointing out that the Haryana government had only recently decided to limit the number of people attending social gatherings like marriages, religious and political functions to contain the recent surge in COVD-19 cases in Haryana.

"In view of the rising coronavirus cases, we had decided to limit indoors gatherings to 100 and outdoor ones to 200 for all types of functions including family, political and religious ones," Khattar told reporters in Hisar on the sidelines of an event," he said.

Referring to the Hisar event, he said, "Even today for this function here, we permitted only 200 people."

With thousands of farmers from Punjab having reached Delhi borders forcing their way through Haryana on the call for protest against the three central farm laws, Khatar said he was surprised why Punjab government encouraged the movement of such big gatherings amid the pandemic.

"Who will be responsible if this disease has an impact here?" he asked, adding: "I will hold Punjab government responsible if the (Covid) situation (in Haryana) aggravates."

Khattar, who has been engaged in a war of words with Amarinder Singh, reiterated that he had tried to talk to him on many occasions over the telephone on farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march, "but the latter is not accepting it now.

"And now when the record has been shown as to how many times I tried to speak to him, he (Amarinder) had no answer," he added.

"Since this is a sponsored programme of Congress and Punjab government, they now want to escape from accepting things," he said.

On Saturday, Khattar had alleged some political parties and organisations were sponsoring the farmers' stir against the Centre's farm laws.

Justifying why Haryana authorities initially stopped farmers from Punjab at inter-state borders, Khattar said, "We stopped them and told them no one will allow such big gatherings in Delhi, but they did not listen and went forcibly ahead."

"We said we will not use force. And I don't consider the use of water cannons and tear gas shells as the use of force," he said, referring to their use by the Haryana police to stop Punjab farmers from entering Haryana.

Hitting out at Amarinder, he said the Punjab CM did not use even appropriate language for him.

"It does not behove a chief minister. At least the way he has behaved, I am not going to do that," he added.

On thousands of farmers laying siege at Haryana's Sonipat border with Delhi, he said the Centre has already told farmers that it is ready to talk with them if they move to the ground designated for their protest in Burari in Delhi.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij too urged farmers to shift to Burari ground in Delhi following the Centre's assurance that it would talk to them.

"But their insistence on protesting at inter-state borders indicates their purpose is something else," Vij said.



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