September 16, 2021 7:11:19 am
After Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s U-turn on farmers’ protest, asking them to “lift dharnas” from Punjab, the Congress is watching him curiously even as the leaders of the party are wondering as to why he had suddenly changed his stance.
Amarinder had been seen siding with the farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws. The Punjab government had even negated the three farm laws in Vidhan Sabha. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had accused him of instigating the farmers. Suddenly, Amarinder’s remarks at a function in Hoshiarpur asking farmers to lift dharnas from the state and go to Delhi instead for the sake of its economy has left a number of leaders in the Punjab Congress perplexed.
The Opposition has already accused the CM of speaking “BJP’s language”. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Wednesday went to the extent of calling Amarinder a “swatantra fauji” of BJP who was trying to keep his bosses happy. Only a few days ago, Amarinder had also spoken on the renovation of Jallianwala Bagh saying it looked “very nice” to him. His comments came a few hours after AICC leader Rahul Gandhi had opposed the renovation calling it an “insult” to the martyrs.
“The CM not only spoke at the function at Hoshiapur, but also reiterated his statement on Tuesday and Wednesday also. We were hoping that he would get softer on Tuesday. But he was harsher,” said a Congress leader, adding that “everyone was watching”.
On Tuesday, Amarinder rejected the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s claims that there was no paralysis of the government in Punjab due to the farmers’ protests, pointing out that it was not the Adanis or the Ambanis whose interests were being hurt by such protests but the common people of the state, as well as its economy.
He had stated that continued protests in Punjab will push industry out of the state, which would have a severe impact on the economy, which his government was still trying to revive from the crisis into which the previous SAD-BJP government had pushed it. Already, the situation was becoming serious on the grain storage and procurement front due to the agitation, with lifting of the stocks by the FCI and state agencies getting obstructed, he said. With the wheat stocks having already completed four years of storage, the unused capacity was getting ruined, while also resulting in financial burden on the public exchequer due to payment of guaranteed charges to the silo owners as per agreements of hiring, said Amarinder, adding that the stocks lying in the FCI Adani silo at Moga alone was worth Rs 480 crore.
On Wednesday, Amarinder, in a retort to Harsimrat said, “It is like asking someone to go to the western front to fight an enemy that is standing at the eastern border.” It was evident that the Akalis were trying to divert the farmers’ attention from the Centre to the state, with an eye on the Assembly polls, unmindful of the harm this would cause to the state and to the farmers themselves.
A number of Congress leaders in Punjab are of the opinion that the CM’s latest remark had the potential to dent the Congress chances in the state, “We do not know what is going to happen.”
The CM had recently faced rebellion from his colleagues. The high command had appointed Navjot Sidhu as PPCC chief against Amarinder’s wishes.
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