A day after SAD changed its stand on farm ordinances, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh called it “a cheap gimmick to hoodwink the farmers”.
In a statement issued Sunday, Amarinder challenged SAD president Sukhbir Badal to quit the BJP-led central government to prove his party’s sincerity in the matter.
Pointing out that, as a member of the ruling alliance at the Centre, the Akali Dal was party to the ordinances and had supported them unconditionally, the CM slammed Sukhbir over his party’s “brazen double standards” on the issue and asked if the Akali leader “was ready to vote against the ordinances in Parliament” as and when the central government puts them to vote.
The chief minister termed as “total hogwash” the SAD’s “so-called appeal” to the Centre to not present the three agricultural ordinances for approval in Parliament until all reservations expressed by farmer organisations were addressed.
Amarinder recalled Sukhbir’s assertion, during the all-party convened by him (Amarinder) on the issue in June, that the central government had assured SAD that there would be no tinkering with the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of crops. “It is more than obvious now that the SAD president had lied then in a deliberate bid to mislead the farmers,” he said, adding that “given his track record, nothing that Sukhbir was saying now on the issue could be believed or trusted in”.
The double standards of the Akalis have become a rule rather than the exception, the statement said, pointing to SAD’s stance on CAA/NCR, among other major issues concerning the state. “What were they doing when the ordinances were being brought in? Why did they not object? After all, they are part of the central government responsible for these ordinances?” he asked.
The chief minister said the SAD’s sudden decision to urge the Centre “not to rush through the Ordinances” reflected their “desperation to get back into the good books of the farmers unions/organisations with an eye on the Punjab Assembly elections”, which were just about 18 months away. After compromising the interests of the farmers so brazenly, the Akalis were now trying to cover up their catastrophic blunder with their latest tactic, he said, adding that the people of Punjab, including the farmers, knew better than to trust Sukhbir.
Amarinder trashed as “completely fraudulent”, Sukhbir’s statement that SAD would hold talks in the coming days with `like-minded parties’ on the issue. “The like-minded parties, including Congress, had rejected outright the ordinances in June during the all-party meeting. What were they doing then? Why did they not support our stand then?” he asked.
The chief minister also ridiculed the SAD decision to send a delegation led by Sukhbir to meet the central government to discuss concerns of the farmers. The decision to approach the Centre had been taken by the all-party in June itself, he pointed out.
The SAD’s claims of being ready to make any sacrifice to safeguard the interests of the farmers were completely humbug, said Captain Amarinder, calling upon Sukhbir to “stop trying to befool the people of Punjab with his dirty games”.
“Your wife is a Union minister. Has she, even once, spoken for the farmers in Cabinet?” he asked, referring to Union Food Processing Industries Minister Harimrat Kaur Badal, adding that on the contrary, the presence of the Akalis in the Union Cabinet had ensured that the Congress-ruled Punjab “continues to get stepmotherly treatment from the central government”.
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