CHANDIGARH/KHATKAR KALAN: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday said that agitation and legal recourse will have to be undertaken simultaneously to force the Centre to rethink its decision.
The Congress in Punjab would seek Rahul Gandhi’s support in leading a nationwide struggle against these legislations, the CM said.
Amarinder sat on a dharna at Khatkar Kalan, the birthplace of Bhagat Singh, in protest against the new farm legislations. He said he will be consulting with lawyers to work out the legal course of action for challenging the unconstitutional laws in the Supreme Court.
Terming the new legislations "a total violation of the nation’s federal structure," the Chief Minister described the enactment of the farm bills as a black day for Punjab. Amarinder made it clear that the verbal assurances of the Centre on MSP could not be trusted. “When they can break constitutional guarantees who can trust their verbal assurance,” he remarked, questioning why MSP had not been made a constitutional right of the farmers in these Acts.
Asserting that he does not want Punjab’s youth and farmers to take to arms to fight for their right to live, Amarinder warned that these new laws will endanger the security of the border state, as Pakistan’s ISI was always on the lookout for opportunities to foment trouble.
He slammed the "step-motherly" treatment meted out to Punjab’s farmers to make big corporates such as the Adanis happy. "Will the Adanis subsidise food for poor Indians?” These laws will spell the death-knell for the PDS system, apart from ruining Punjab and its farmers, he added.
Amarinder said those sitting at the Centre clearly knew nothing about agriculture. The farm laws are a bid to destroy the time-tested farmer-Arhtiya relations. The small farmers, whom his government had been trying to help over the past 3.5 years and who constitute more than 70% of the farming community,
would be the worst-affected, he added.
In response to a question, he made it clear that the Punjab Congress manifesto spoke about widening the scope of the APMC Act and setting up hundreds of new Mandis/Yards to enable easy access to farmers.
He stressed the need for all to rise above politics to fight the Centre’s dangerous laws unitedly. The fight at present was between the farmers and the central government. In fact, all the powers of the states were being usurped by the Centre. “We have nothing left except excise from liquor sales during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and all that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would say is that it’s an act of God,” he quipped.
"Centre was asking why farmers in Punjab were protesting. What else should they do? Distribute ladoos? Punjab’s farmers had not only fed the nation through the years but also made India self-sufficient in food grains," said the Chief Minister, adding that with the funds flow to the Mandi Board also getting affected by these laws. The development work in villages will also come to a standstill.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs, Harish Rawat, who was accompanying Amarinder Singh, announced a signature campaign beginning on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) to collect two crore signatures of farmers against the new farm laws. These will be submitted to the President on November 14 to coincide with Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth anniversary, he said, adding that Kisan Sammelans would also be organized to take the fight to its logical conclusion.