A day after a 90-minute meeting with AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Deputy Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh Friday led a dharna to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s residence to press for clearance of sugarcane farmers’ pending dues.
Amarinder was accompanied by CLP leader Sunil Jakhar and several sitting and former party MLAs.
Policemen posted on the spot did not stop the protesters.
Interestingly, Badal sat on a chair outside his residence minutes before 11am, the scheduled time of the protest, and had even arranged pedestal fans, chairs and durries for the protesters. Water, tea and coffee were also made available.
However, the Congress members reached late by around 30 minutes. Badal, by then, had left to meet a South Korean delegation.
Amarinder and his supporters did not sit on the chairs or the durries and squatted on the road. The sit-in continued for 35-odd minutes.
PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa, former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who had recently blasted Amarinder on his stand on GST bill, and senior leader Laal Singh were prominent among the absentees.
Even MLAs from Patiala district, including Brah Mohindra and Randeep Nabha, were not there. Bajwa’s wife, who is MLA from Qadian, was also missing.
Today’s dharna aimed to counter Bajwa who has also given a call for dharna on August 25 outside a sugar mill in Phagwara against sugar mill owners for not paying dues of cane farmers.
In his address, Amarinder said the Chief Minister was not providing any bonus to sugarcane farmers by fixing the State Approved Price (SAP) of sugarcane at Rs 295 per quintal as against the central government’s Fair Ruminative Price (FRP) of Rs 220 per quintal.
Explaining the issue, he said, Badal had cheated the sugarcane farmers by announcing the SAP at Rs 295 without realising whether it can be paid to them or not.
He said after enhancing the FRP by Rs 75, his government should have come forward with bonus like the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Bihar.
Referring to Rs 90 crore released by the Badal government for the cooperative sugar mills, he remarked: “It was too little and too late.”
Amarinder admits to threat from AAP
Capt Amarinder today said that 2017 Assembly elections would be a direct contest between the Congress and AAP and the SAD and BJP would be pushed to the fringes only.
Indicating they would catch the youth voters, Amarinder said he would be visiting colleges and universities to garner support and attention of the youth voters in the days to come.
Addressing the mediapersons on the sidelights of his dharna against, he ruled out floating a separate party, “Do you think with all this love, respect and support of MLAs, Congress workers and leaders and also the general public I should be leaving my party and everything behind?” ENS