The SAD’s protest in the Assembly over delay in announcement of loan waiver for farmers ended in a dramatic fashion on Friday after Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh waved some papers and said he would make public the names of SAD leaders who have sand mining interests. Soon after a visibly irritated Chief Minister threatened to reveal the names, SAD-BJP MLAs who had been shouting slogans in Well of the House since morning, returned to their designated seats.
However, former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the MLAs ended their protest only after the CM’s assurance that loan waiver promise would be fulfilled. Earlier in the day, Amarinder hit out at the SAD for disrupting the House proceedings over the loan waiver issue and said he was yet to see such behaviour in his entire political career. “It shames me that this is happening at a time when I am the leader of the House,” said an emotional Amarinder.
He said he did not understand what the fuss was all about because the loan waiver was a poll promise of his party which his government was committed to fulfilling. The CM said that the Haq committee formed to assess the total farm debt would submit its report soon and action would be taken based on its recommendations. However, a short while later, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal made a contradictory statement while addressing a press conference when he said the committee’s report had been submitted to the Chief Minister Thursday evening. Amarinder also hit out at AAP for throwing paper missiles at the Speaker.
Taking on SAD, the CM said that instead of raising all issues during the Question Hour, the Opposition was resorting to obstructionist behaviour to prevent the conduct of any important business and to hog the limelight. “What do they think that I will come under some pressure. All my life I have not taken any pressure,” he said. Blaming the SAD’s “misrule over the past 10 years” for the current state of farmers in Punjab, the CM said that 7000 farmers had committed suicide in the state during their regime. “The Akalis were sleeping all these years and have now suddenly become custodians of the farmers’ interest and welfare,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manpreet Singh Badal and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attacked the SAD for repeatedly creating ruckus in the Assembly and not allowing it to function smoothly. Addressing a press conference, Manpreet said the entire Badal clan, which had announced they would rule for 25 years, had not even spent 25 minutes in the Assembly. Terming the SAD a “rudderless ship”, Sidhu said, “Sardar Badal (former CM) and junior Badal (Sukhbir Badal) marked their attendance in the Speaker’s room and left from there.” “They cannot face the House themselves and are putting their cronies in the front to speak on their behalf,” he said.