Amid continued protests by farmers against the new farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Tuesday said he was prepared to “resign or be dismissed rather than bow to injustice towards Punjab’s farmers”. The CM also warned of possible disruption to state’s peace and a threat to national security as a result of the farm laws, pointing out that nobody can tolerate religious hurt and attack on livelihood.
“I am not afraid of resigning. I am not afraid of my government being dismissed. But I will not let the farmers suffer or be ruined,” the chief minister said on the second day of the special session of the Vidhan Sabha, adding that he had chosen to quit at the time of Operation Blue Star instead of “accepting or endorsing the assault on Sikh ethos”.
Cautioning the Centre against allowing the situation to get out of hand, the chief minister said if the farm laws are not revoked, angry youth would take to streets and join the farmers, which would lead to chaos.
The way things are going on at present, the situation has the potential to disturb the peaceful atmosphere, he said, observing that this is what had happened in the 80s and 90s. He further warned that both China and Pakistan would collude and try to take advantage of any disruption to the state’s peace, which would pose a serious threat to national security.
While reiterating his support to the agitating farmers, the CM also appealed to them to end the ‘Rail Roko’ agitation and blockades and allow movement of essential commodities. The CM said with power generation at a precarious low, no urea for fertilisers and no space in godown for fresh paddy arrivals, the state was going through a tough times.
“We have stood with you, now it is your turn to stand with us,” he said in an appeal to the farmers.
The chief minister also presented his government’s four Bills in the House to negate the Centre’s farm laws. The Bills seek to amend the Farmers Produce Facilitation Act, the Farmers Agreement and Farm Services Act, the Essential Commodities Act, and the Civil Procedure Code, with the overarching aim of countering the effects of what the chief minister termed as “legislation by subterfuge”.
“In the name of Farming Laws, we have actually enacted Trade Laws. It is not farmers who will have access to a national market, but traders. Hence, the use of term “trade area” in the so-called Farmers legislations is also very telling,” said Amarinder while presenting the four Bills for consideration in the House.
Blaming the BJP squarely for sidelining Punjab’s agriculture, Amarinder alleged since other states have now started providing food grains to the country, the Centre has ignored the farmers of Punjab who fed the country for 70 years.
Pointing out that the state government had not been paid its promised GST, the CM questioned the Centre over failure to adhere to the constitutional guarantees.
Referring to the backdrop of farm laws, the chief minister said the seeds of the crop the state was harvesting today were actually sown back in 2015 by the Shanta Kumar Committee, which recommended “to explore the possibility of compensating the farmers when prices fall below MSP instead of physically handling the large quantities of grains…… This will help in bringing rationality in procurement operations and bringing back private sector in competition with state agencies in grain procurement”.
Amarinder made it clear that his government would not allow the state’s farming community and agriculture, which were the back of its growth and development, to be ruined by the BJP through such devious methods. His government’s four Bills, said the chief minister, were aimed at preventing the damage that the central laws would cause to the state and its agriculture, while allying the fears of farmers and consumers.
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