Terming the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 as a “direct” and “deliberate assault” by the Centre on the interests of the farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Tuesday said the state Congress will challenge it in the court of law.
Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to deregulate food items, including cereals, pulses and onion, a move aimed at transforming the farm sector and raising farmers’ income.
“Riding roughshod over the farmers’ concerns, the central government, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a constituent, has imposed a central law on a state subject, thus eroding the federal structure of the country. We will challenge it in court,” Amarinder said in a statement.
Asserting that he will not allow the farmers’ interests to be compromised in this “shameless manner”, Singh said the enactment of the legislation is a step towards the “abolition” of the MSP (minimum support price) regime. “It is a conspiracy on the part of the BJP-led NDA government to destroy Punjab and its farmers,” he alleged and declared that the Congress will fight this “attack” on the state’s interests tooth and nail.
“The legislation talks of encouraging competition among farmers. Do they really expect poor farmers, who are only competing with themselves for survival every day, to rival big corporates for protecting their interests?” asked the CM.
Noting that the enactment, along with the other two farm ordinances that the Centre has already tabled in the Lok Sabha, was in line with the recommendations of the Shanta Kumar committee, Amarinder pointed out that the same panel had also suggested dismantling of the MSP regime. “It is evident that the NDA government is now moving towards the elimination of the MSP system, which is the lifeline of the farmers,” he said.
The CM also took on SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, accusing him of failing to protect the interests of Punjab’s farmers. “Sukhbir and his SAD are clearly a party to the treachery of the Union government, which has paved the way for “taking away” the rights of the farmers. Will you quit the ruling coalition at the Centre, or will you continue to wait outside their doors for any crumbs they throw your way?” he asked Sukhbir.
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