CHANDIGARH: Even as PM Modi defended the farm Bills, Punjab remains on the boil with farmers taking to the streets against the legislations, CM Amarinder Singh asserting the new mechanism will “destroy farmers and destroy Punjab” and an edgy SAD reportedly rethinking its ties with the BJP.
Keeping up his attack, Amarinder said the so-called farm reforms were a conspiracy of the NDA government, of which the Akalis were a part “at the cost of their own state and its people”. He said the anti-farmer move will spoil the ‘abo-hawa’ (environment) of Punjab. “Delhi has to rethink”, the CM stressed, adding that the legislations would undo the sacrifices made by Punjab and its farmers for 65 years to make India self-sufficient in food.
Amarinder asked the Badals why the SAD had failed to stand with the Punjab government on these Bills and on the critical water issue. The CM said notwithstanding the Centre’s denials, these new laws will eventually pave the way for the elimination of the MSP regime and the end of FCI, leaving the farmers at the mercy of big corporates.
He also trashed the Centre’s promise of retaining the MSP, saying it was a constitutional guarantee given by Parliament, which the Modi government was trying to destroy with its brute majority. Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the state would suffer an annual loss of `4,000 crore, leading to mass destruction of rural livelihoods and increasing the distress.
The SAD, meanwhile, is said to be reviewing its ties with its ally BJP to save its vote bank. Though Assembly polls are still two years away, the party doesn’t want to be seen as anti-farmer as it’s a question of survival for it.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal gave ample hints that if it comes to making a choice, the party would rather part ways with the BJP than risk alienating its core constituency of farmers. “We tried to make the Centre aware of farmers’ sentiments. When it did not clear the apprehensions of farmers and tabled the Bills, we opposed them as we are with the farmers,” he said.