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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

‘Don’t let political parties exploit you’: Navjot Singh Sidhu urges farmers to contest polls

He said that 60 per cent of Punjab's population works in the farming sector, hence farmers are in majority in the state.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: September 29, 2020 12:37:22 pm
‘Don’t let political parties exploit you’: Navjot Singh Sidhu urges farmers to contest pollsCongress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu addresses farmers at his native village Mannawala on Monday. (Express photo by Harmeet Sodhi)

CONGRESS MLA and former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday urged Punjab’s farmers to unite and make their voices heard in the Vidhan Sabha by contesting elections.

He said that 60 per cent of Punjab’s population works in the farming sector, hence farmers are in majority in the state.

“If you are in majority, why don’t you all unite together and contest elections so as to send your representatives to Vidhan Sabha? If your voice is in Vidhan Sabha, they will speak for you. Realise your strength and don’t let political parties exploit you.”

The MLA said this at Mannawala in Sangrur district, his native village where he had spent his childhood years.

Speaking on the farm Bills issue, he said, “I will go to other villages of Punjab as well, but I have started from my native village as I am sure that my message from this village will reach all 12,000 villages of Punjab.”

Sidhu was welcomed by villagers and Monday’s programme was dedicated to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh as Sidhu said, “This fight is not for our crops, land but for our ‘pagg’. We all need to remember Bhagat Singh’s words on his birthday — ‘Pagri sambhal jatta pagri sambhal ve, hakumatan na tera lutt liya mal ve’.”

Slogans like ‘Punjab’s future CM Navjot Sidhu Zindabaad’ were heard as Sidhu, who had resigned as local bodies minister long and had never taken charge as power minister of Punjab — spoke.

Accusing the Centre of following a ‘use and throw’ policy for Punjab, he said, “We never needed the Green Revolution, the country needed it. So 2 per cent of the country’s population has fed 60% of it. And now they want to snatch our identity from us. We will not let that happen. Remember, ‘sher chaliya karde khuddar chaliya karde, sir uchha karke Punjabi sardar chaliya karde (lions walk, people with dignity walk…the Punjabi sardar walks with his head held high).”

Targeting the Electricity Bill, he said, “Now the entire control of Electricity Bill will go to Centre and they will ask state to give subsidy of free power directly to farmers in their bank accounts . However, from where will the state — which is debt-ridden — be able to give this subsidy to you? Hence, power subsidy will come in danger. But I have a plan as to how the government can raise this fund for power subsidy and come out of debt. First target the liquor mafia, next the sand mafia and further transport mafia of Sukha gappi (Sukhbir Singh Badal), what to talk of Rs 10,000 crore a year, the state will be able to collect over Rs 25,000 crore a year if all these mafias are controlled. I gave these suggestions two years ago as well as I am very clear and my politics is for giving solutions and doing welfare of people.”

He further said, “A leader is not meant for doing only press conferences, meeting Governor or President…Leaders are not the ones who show you their backs when you need them or make hollow promises. Punjabis want to unite people but Centre has an agenda to divide and rule. They want to implement the failed schemes of Europe and USA in our country. This central government is not run by mantris but by corporate companies. They will have different rates of crop for poor and rich farmers…Farming is our strength, our Punjabi farmers are teaching farming practices to the world while living in other countries. How dare these Amabani Adani determine rate of our crop. As Amul has made a cooperative model.. why can’t you all make cooperatives and do combined agriculture? Hence, you will determine rate of your crop. If Punjab government can have a cooperative of milk in the state (Milkfed) why can’t they have a cooperative for crops?”

Sidhu spoke about the need for storage houses. “Uncovered storage houses need to be covered. Hence, we will be able to produce all those things which we are eating as pulses are being imported and even many other things as well.”

He further said, “In the last 40 years, the income of a private employee increased by 200 per cent, it was 400 per cent for a government employee, Amabanis, Adanis — it was a 1000 per cent increase but farmers’ MSP was raised only 15 per cent. When the entire state was in lockdown, it was Punjab and Haryana who had fed 82 crore poor of our country through public distribution system of food grain and now they want our basic structure of farming to vanish. We will not let it happen and will fight for ourselves as Bhagat Singh had rightly said “zindagi apne dam pe je jati hai auron ke kandho pe tau janaja uthta hai”.”

Sidhu also said, “I am Guru Nanak’s follower. The one who taught us how to use plough in fields…you all know that what all allegations had been leveled on me when Kartarpur Sahib project was launched. But the one with who is Nanak…no one can cause any damage to that person.”

He added, “Farmers are given lecture of diversification but why does farmer prefer wheat and paddy? Because they have MSP. The other crops have no MSP.”

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