Punjab Vidhan Sabha Friday passed a resolution rejecting the farm ordinances and proposed Electricity Bill promulgated by the Centre.
The resolution was moved by the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and was supported by the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), but was opposed by the BJP. SAD MLAs gave the sitting a miss.
Tabling the resolution, the Chief Minister said that state is seriously concerned about the apprehensions and anguished caused by the three ordinances — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 promulgated by the Union Government — and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020.
Amarinder said that these ordinances were anti-Punjab and anti-farmer and would again descend into chaos filled era of the 1980s which the state, being a border state, can ill afford as Pakistan is waiting in the wings to derive advantage from the chaotic situation to create mayhem in the country.
“When this country was in dire straits for food security and we got grains from US, at that time Punjab stepped up for the nation and minimum support price (MSP) was introduced. It was the Shanta Kumar Commission which said that Food Corporation of India (FCI) should be wound up and MSP withdrawn. Now, they want to do away with mandis. If this happens our farmers will be ruined. We cannot accept these ordinances,” he said.
Pointing out that the price support and maintenance mechanisms are necessary for MSP and ensuring National Food Security, the Chief Minister said that these ordinances would spell economic ruin for the farming sector of Punjab especially those 70 percent having less than five acres.
Amarinder added that the Electricity Amendment Bill of the Centre was discriminatory.
“How can you have one power tariff all over the country. The ordinances and the electricity bill are against the federal structure of the Constitution,” Amarinder added.
The CM said that this is the second time that the precious resources of Punjab are being encroached upon the first time being in 2004 when the Vidhan Sabha cancelled the river water sharing agreement and saved the state and its agrarian economy from certain doom.
“Water is our life and so is MSP. If you reach for our neck then the Punjabi will speak up. What is happening? There is a need to have bigger thought and a bigger heart. The BJP MLAs present here should tell their government in the centre what trouble will be caused by this,” the CM said.
The resolution passed by the House said that Entry 14 of List II of the Constitution comprises agriculture as the subject of the states, therefore these ordinances are a direct encroachment upon the functions of the states and against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution and will promote distress sale.
The resolution urges upon the Union government to withdraw these ordinances and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 forthwith; and instead, promulgate a fresh ordinance making the procurement of foodgrains and other agricultural produce at the Minimum Support Price (MSP), a statutory right of the farmers and continuation of government procurement through Food Corporation of India.
Those who voiced support included Cabinet Ministers Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress MLAs Kuljit Singh Nagra and Gurkirat Singh Kotli, AAP MLAs Kanwar Sandhu and Kultar Singh Sandhwan, and Lok Insaf Party MLA Simarjit Singh Bains.
Commenting upon the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for not being present in the Vidhan Sabha, the Chief Minister said that the party which brought Sri Anandpur Sahib resolution, knowingly absented itself from the Vidhan Sabha on such a significant occasion. He said that who would believe guarantee given by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal who had asserted that the ordinances won’t spell harm for the farm sector of Punjab.
BJP MLA Dinesh Singh said that there was nothing in the Ordinances against farmers. “Neither is the MSP being done away with nor the mandis are being abolished. Congress has no issues so it is raising this matter. They are misleading the farmers,” said the BJP MLA.
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