Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday targeted Amarinder Singh on farmers issue, alleging that the latter is “out of touch with reality” as the government had already taken steps to resolve problems being faced by farmers at the hands of commission agents. He ridiculed the state Congress president for announcing that his party would resolve the issue of loans taken from commission agents once it comes to power in the state.
“You seem to be living in a gilded cage surrounded by a coterie which keeps you busy in other activities so you missed the passing of the Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Bill, 2016 by the state Assembly. The bill envisages exactly what you aim to do – provide a framework for assessment and settlement of non-institutional agricultural debt which has been a major burden on debt-ridden farmers of Punjab,” he said.
The SAD-BJP alliance government had taken this forward by establishing five Debt Settlement Tribunals at the Commissionerate level, he claimed.
He said retired judges had been appointed as chairmen of the tribunals and two members – one each from the commission agent and farming community – had been appointed as its members.
Sukhbir claimed these tribunals, which would be extended to the district level soon, would settle all commission agent-farmer related disputes amicably.
He said, “The government had a few days back passed an order exempting small and marginal farmers who had taken a crop loan of Rs 50,000 from cooperative societies from paying any interest”.
The Deputy Chief Minister said even as the SAD-BJP combine government had taken steps to end rent seeking and facilitate small and marginal farmers in availing interest free loans to sow their crops, the Congress leaders were trying to “befool” the people that it would waive farm loans.
Asking Amarinder to stop “befooling” the farmers, he said it would be better if the Punjab Congress president could list what he had done for farmers during his tenure as chief minister.
“You are shedding crocodile tears and suddenly realised farmers are facing indebtedness. But far from waiving any loan of any farmer as a chief minister, you even took away the free power subsidy given to the farming community by Parkash Singh Badal,” he said.