New farm laws part of SAD-backed central govt’s `kisan maaru, punjab maaru’ conspiracy, says Capt Amarinder
Says Delhi has to rethink as these laws will spoil peaceful environment of his border state
Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday slammed the farm legislations being forced on to the nation by the central government as part of the `Destroy Farmers, Destroy Punjab’ (Kisan maaru, Punjab maaru) conspiracy of the BJP-led NDA, of which the Akalis continue shamelessly to be a part at the cost of their own state and its people.
“I don’t know what enmity the BJP and the Akalis have with Punjab and why they are out to destroy us,” said the Chief Minister while launching the Virual Kisan Mela of the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. The launch was held with virtual connectivity at 100 locations and participated by farmers, farmer representatives and other stakeholders, including ministers, MLAs and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar.
Warning again that the legislations will lead to growing angst among the people in the border state, thus giving Pakistan the opportunity to stoke more fires, Captain Amarinder said the anti-farmer move will spoil the `abo hawa’ (environment) of Punjab. Delhi has to rethink on this issue, he stressed, adding that the legislations would undo the sacrifices made by Punjab and its farmers over 65 years to make India self-sufficient in food.
Accusing the Akalis of playing their own political games in this entire affair, Captain Amariner asked the Badals why the SAD had failed to stand with the Punjab government on these Bills and even on the critical water issue. “Did you not think even once what will happen to Punjab without agriculture and without water?” he asked the Akalis, pointing out that with the SYL issue hanging over the state, the situation was perilous and the SAD had only contributed to the crisis by supporting the farm ordinances.
The Chief Minister said notwithstanding the Centre’s denials these new laws will eventually pave the way for the elimination of the MSP regime and end of the FCI, leaving the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, as recommended by the Shanta Kumar committee.
Strongly opposing the legislations, the Chief Minister also trashed the Centre’s guarantee of MSP not being tampered with, saying it was a Constitutional guarantee given by Parliament, which, in fact, the incumbent government at the Centre was trying to destroy with their brute majority. Even the MSP already announced on items like Maize is not being given to the farmers, he noted, questioning the sincerity of the Government of India.
Categorically rejecting BJP and SAD claims that Punjab was on board with the farm ordinances, the Chief Minister made it clear that the issue of any such ordinances or new laws on agriculture was never discussed at any of the meetings in which his government was represented at the high-powered committee set up by the Centre on agricultural reforms.
Politicians should not lie on such grave issues with serious implications for our future generations, said Captain Amarinder, in an obvious reference to the false and misleading claims of Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Politics aside, this is an issue concerning the future of our children, he added.
With only 13 seats in Lok Sabha, the Congress was browbeaten and the dangerous and vicious Bills were passed by the Centre with brute majority, he pointed out, adding that India’s future generations will not forgive the damage being inflicted on the nation by the NDA and its allies.
The high-powered committee was clearly an eyewash, the Chief Minister said, waving the draft report shared with Punjab, which made no mention whatsoever of the ordinances. His government’s response to the draft report had, in fact, clearly listed its stand on any reforms, he added.
It was shameful that despite knowing these facts as part of the ruling coalition, the Akalis continued to side with the central government and did not oppose the ordinances during the all-party meeting convened by him and did not even come to the Assembly to vote for the resolution against them, Captain Amarinder said.
Taking a dig at Harsimrat Badal’s remarks of standing with her `farmer brethren’ by resigning from the Union Cabinet, Captain Amarinder asked why she forgot that the farmers were her brothers when the Centre brought in the ordinances. Had SAD stood with his government from the outset and put pressure on their ally, the BJP, the current situation may not have arisen, he added.
Pointing out that it was Punjab and its farmers, who toiled with blood and sweat to make the nation food surplus after being a beggar of food for years, Captain Amarinder said despite being a small state, Punjab saved the nation from going hungry through the years. Even during the Covid pandemic, all the food grain distributed to the poor around the country came from Punjab’s godowns, he noted.
The Chief Minister lauded the role of PAU in making India self-sufficient in food grains and said while the Kisan Mela was being held virtually for the first time in its history, on account of the prevailing pandemic, the research university’s support to the farmers amid the pandemic was appreciable.
Earlier, Jakhar congratulated the Chief Minister for ensuring smooth procurement of wheat despite the pandemic, and the excellent management of the Kharif season. Describing the new legislations as dark clouds looming on the farm sector, Jakhar said there can be no food or nutritional security till farmers have financial security, which the central government was destroying with these new laws.
AGRI BILLS WILL CAUSE A LOSS OF RS.4000 CRORE TO PUNJAB EVERY YEAR: MANPREET SINGH BADAL
Chandigarh: Accusing the NDA Government of violating the federal structure of Constitution by passing bills on items reserved on the State List, Punjab Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal on Friday said that Punjab alone would suffer a loss of Rs.4000 crore every year that will lead to the mass destruction of rural livelihoods, increasing farmer distress and pauperization.
Addressing the media today at Bathinda, the Finance Minister stated that the NDA government is shying away from issuing a categorical assurance to the Indian farmers that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) will remain intact. “Why is the Union Government hesitating in announcing that unlimited and uninterrupted MSP will continue?”, Manpreet Singh Badal asked.
Agriculture falls in the state list of subjects, said the minister, adding that the Union Government’s action impinges on the state’s rights. This is not the first time the NDA Government has harmed the rights of the states. Despite including a provision in the Indian Constitution regarding compensating states in case of GST revenue shortfall, the NDA government has deliberately ignored the federal fabric of the Constitution, he added.
“This is the death knell of the MSP and the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees that have served the nation very well since the 1960's,” Manpreet Singh Badal said.
Presenting the minutes of the meeting with the Union Government, the Finance Minister said he had raised seven issues with the Union Government. This included a categorical assurance from the Union Government that the MSP would not be removed. Other matters included the inclusion of maize within the ambit of MSP, more resources to the states for agricultural research, greater powers to the states under the Insecticide Act, and the need for further research in other crops.
He pointed out that the Agriculture Insurance Scheme is not suitable for Punjab. Further, the Union Government should always consult states when they sign agreements on agriculture issues with foreign governments.
The Finance Minister released two documents — the minutes of the meeting and the Punjab Government’s written note to the Union Government on this issue. The written note makes the position of the Punjab Government very clear, the Finance Minister added.
He also accused the Shiromani Akali Dal of duplicity. “You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds,” Manpreet quipped while describing the Akali Dal position. On the one hand, they bend before the PM touching his feet, while in public they claim to confront him, he said. The Finance Minister also dismissed the Union Food Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal's resignation charade stating that she was present in the cabinet meeting where the agriculture ordinance was discussed. Further, when the NDA Government made the decision to present it before the Parliament, these bills were once again approved by the Cabinet, of which Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a part.
Elaborating on the provisions of the bills, the Finance Minister stated that sale and purchase of foodgrains would no longer remain the preserve of marketing yards and mandis, but they could be sold anywhere to anyone. Further, no mandi fees would be paid by the buyers. Currently, 65,000 kilometers of rural roads in Punjab are maintained with these mandi fees.
Moreover, the buyer would no longer need permission or a license, but could use the PAN card to make purchases. Additionally, in case of any dispute between the farmer and the purchaser, it would be the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) who would adjudicate. All this will lead to absolute power to the private trader at the cost of ignoring the massive marketing infrastructure that has been dutifully created during the past sixty years.