February 12, 2021 11:26:56 am
With the farmers agitation affecting all political activity in the state, ruling Congress took up the issue of hike in petrol, LPG and other commodities’ prices and hit the streets ahead of municipal corporation elections and organised dharnas at district level on a day when the peasants organised a mahapanchayat at Jagraon on Thursday.
The Congress has been deferring rallies and political activity amid the farmers’ protest. The leaders have been concerned that the farmer organisations would not like the political parties organising such activities as these divide the supporters at their dharnas at the Delhi borders.
Last time when PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar had led a protest at Shambhu border as a mark of solidarity with farmers, there were reactions from within the party that they should not have organised it. Later, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had also deferred his plan of organising rallies in the state.
As all the attention is now focussed on farmers’ protests, the Congress found a way to have its own political activity ahead of the MC polls. Dharnas were held across the state by Congress leaders including Cabinet ministers in their respective constituencies. Jakhar held a rally in his hometown, Abohar.
Sources in the party said that they cannot wait to hit the roads now. “Farmers have been protesting. That issue is on. But the issue of diesel and petrol price hike concerns the common man as well as the farmers. Hence, we thought of organising these dharnas. Today’s activity has lent confidence to the party workers ahead of civic body elections,” a party leader said.
Jakhar, leading a protest at Abohar in Fazilka, spoke on the issue of farmers and termed the central legislations as “Black Laws” that should be repealed. He raised the issue of inflation also at the rally. He alleged that every section of the society is “suffering” due to the “wrong” policies of the BJP-led regime.
Jakhar said when the Congress was in power in 2014, the price of crude oil in the international market was USD 104 per barrel and now it is around USD 60 per barrel but prices of fuel are being hiked. “As a result, consumers in Punjab alone are facing an additional financial burden of Rs 750 crore every month,” he said.
He also criticised the Union petroleum minister for blaming the oil companies for the rising prices. Jakhar said the Modi government has also increased the price of cooking gas “drastically” while the subsidy on cylinders has been reduced by 90 per cent as compared to what it was in 2014.
Referring to the farmers’ agitation, he alleged that the Centre had enacted three “black” laws to encourage “black market and destroy the agriculture sector”. The farmers from different states have been camping at the Delhi borders for the past two months to get the contentious laws repealed. “But Iron nails have been laid on the roads to prevent ‘anndata’ from entering Delhi,” he stated.
In Phagwara, the ruling Congress workers staged a sit-in outside the SDM’s office from 11 am till 1 pm.
In Amritsar, Congress workers under the leadership of MLA Raj Kumar Verka organised a protest and raised “anti-BJP” slogans. Slamming the BJP government for rising fuel prices, Verka said, “This is another step to plunder the economically poor people of the nation.”
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