Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday dubbed Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh’s controversial remarks about the ongoing farmers agitation “bizzare”.
“It is not the protest which is bizarre, but the union minister’s statement,” Amarinder Singh said. He said that the Union minister’s statement yesterday that the protest by farmers was an attempt to gain media attention showed the Centre’s apathy towards the farming community.
The Punjab chief minister demanded Radha Mohan Singh’s resignation saying that he did not connect with the farmers’ woes. “When a minister entrusted with the welfare of the farmers cannot relate to their problems and is absolutely indifferent to their plight, one can well imagine which way the country is headed,” Amarinder Singh said. He added that the farmers were committing suicide out of sheer desperation and masses were reeling under spiralling prices.
“When the farmers, who feed the nation, are forced to resort to such extreme steps, including taking to the streets to draw attention to their pitiable condition, then it does not augur well for the country,” he said. “Radha Mohan (Singh) clearly had no qualms about showing his lack of sensitivity to their problems,” he said. Expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers, Amarinder Singh blamed the Centre for their woes.
“The farmers are suffering as a result of the central government’s failure to waive their debts, which many state governments, including Punjab, have repeatedly sought,” he said. Questioning the Centre’s intent to rescue the beleaguered farmers, Amarinder Singh asked, “If a bankrupt state like Punjab could do its bit for a loan waiver, why could the Centre not come up with a waiver scheme?”
The chief minister also demanded that the farmers be paid the due price for their produce and in toto implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report. Amarinder Singh said that the Modi government only seemed interested in appeasing the rich industrialists who were fleecing the country. “The poor are nowhere on their priority agenda,” he said.
Farmers in various parts of the country launched a 10-day agitation on Friday to press their demands including a loan waiver and the right price for crops. They dumped farm produce on roads and blocked supplies to cities in several states on Friday.
When asked about the protest at a press conference on Saturday in Patna, Radha Mohan Singh said that farmers opted for “unusual deeds” to draw media attention as they belong to organisations with only a few thousand members.