Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Tuesday sought inputs and suggestions from legal experts, including those representing Kisan Unions, on how best to tackle the three farm laws notified by the Centre recently.
The CM, who was chairing a meeting of top officials hours after meeting the representatives of 31 farmers’ unions here, directed Advocate General Atul Nanda to collate and consider all such suggestions, which may be received on a specially created email id – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier during the day, the CM, extending his government’s full support to the agitating farmers in these “dark and difficult times” assured them of all possible legal and other steps to fight the “draconian new farm laws”, including a special session of the Vidhan Sabha to discuss and decide the way forward.
“We will take all possible steps to counter the Union government’s assault on the state’s federal and constitutional rights and fight for the interests of the farmers,” he said.
Besides the farmer representatives, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat attended the meeting, along with state ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and Nanda
Amarinder said, if legal experts advise amendment to state laws to fight the central laws, a special session of the Assembly will be immediately convened to do so. He, however, trashed SAD president Sukhbir Badal’s demand for a special Vidhan Sabha session as cheap gimmickry after their active support to the central laws for months.
Slamming the Akalis for “pawning off farmers’ interests to corporates to promote their petty political interests”, he said the SAD MLAs had chosen to stay away from the Vidhan Sabha session during which the resolution against the Farm Bills was passed. He said the SAD had been “wholeheartedly” supporting the farm ordinances throughout and backed out only when its position in Punjab became untenable amid widespread angst among farmers.
He said he wrote to the prime minister thrice before the farm bills were passed in Parliament, urging him not to go ahead with the move as it would create immense problems for the whole nation, but did not get any response. The Centre could not be trusted to protect the farmers’ interests on its own, the chief minister said, pointing out that Punjab had not received its rightful GST compensation from the Union government for eight months.
Asserting that the Centre had no right to enact these laws as it amounted to “violation” of the Constitution and an attack on the federal structure, the chief minister said his government shares the concerns of the farmers and will do “whatever it takes to scuttle the Union government’s attempt to ruin the farming community with these draconian legislations”.
The battle will be fought on all fronts, he said, adding that besides the Congress’s signature campaign announced by Rawat on Monday, all panchayats in the state would be requested to pass resolutions against the farm laws and the same would be sent to the Union government.
Declaring that his government and the Punjab Congress are with the farmers in this “difficult time”, Singh said he would take the suggestions of the “kisan” unions to legal experts to finalise the next course of action.
“If the new laws are implemented, it will spell the end of agriculture,” he said, warning that “in the times ahead, the Government of India will follow up these legislations with elimination of MSP and FCI, bringing an end to the time-tested farming procurement and marketing system as we know it”.
“The mandis that have existed and worked well for more than 60 years will be wiped out and with MSP also ending, wheat will be sold the same way as maize currently is — at much lower prices than dictated by the MSP,” he added.
Earlier, several farmer leaders urged Singh to challenge the central laws legally and take whatever other steps needed to protect the farmers, including blocking construction of Adani’s silos in the state.
Balbir Singh Rajewal of BKU, Rajewal said the new laws will ruin the farmers, “arhtiyas”, farm labourers, mandi employees and render lakhs of people jobless, leading to a devastating impact on the state’s economy. “These laws will lead to the establishment of two kinds of mandis, one with tax and other without tax for private players, which will eventually destroy the government mandis and lead to corporate monopolisation and farmer exploitation,” he said.
Jagjit Singh Dallewal of BKU, Sidhupur urged the chief minister to convene a special session of the Assembly to pass a law to counter the central legislations, while Dr Darshanpal, president pf Krantikari Kisan Union requested him to consult constitutional experts so that the state could formulate new laws.
Buta Singh and Jhanda Singh of BKU Ekta said it was a fight to the finish to protect the farmers and the state from annihilation by the central government, whose sole aim was to help corporates.
Farmers in Punjab have been protesting against the new laws meant to deregulate the sale of their crops, with their unions saying that these legislations will actually lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system.
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