Expressing shock at Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s remarks over Punjab’s and the Congress party’s stand on the controversial farm Bills, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Thursday said the BJP leader has clearly shed even the “pretence of fairness and honesty in pursuit of his party’s demonic agenda.”
“In his desperation to promote the BJP-led NDA government’s conspiracy to ruin the farmers, Tomar has thrown all propriety to the winds, spreading disinformation against the Congress in general, and him in particular, by peddling shameless falsehoods,” Amarinder said in a statement.
On Tomar’s question at to why did he (Amarinder) keep it in 2017 Congress manifesto that APMC will be changed, the Chief Minister said it was obvious that the minister had not even read the document.
The manifesto had clearly promised that “Updation of APMC Act will be done to ensure direct access of farmers to the national and international markets through digital technology without tinkering with the existing MSP system” and “Government of India will not be allowed to tinker with the existing MSP system. Instead they will be pursued to effectively implement MSP for other crops i.e. maize, pulses also, Amarinder said. “Further, it had stated that Agriculture Marketing will be upgraded and digitized with a complete ban on utilization of Mandi Board Funds for purposes other than agriculture marketing,” he added.
Amarinder said that there was a difference between changing the APMC for the better, which the Congress manifesto promised in detail, and destroying the tried and tested APMC system to benefit a few corporate cronies, which the BJP-led hovernment’s new farm Bills were designed to do.
Even the Congress 2019 Lok Sabha poll manifesto also categorically stated that MSP would be protected at all costs and that thousands of markets/mandis would be set up by the state governments to provide easy access to farmers for profitable sale of their produce, the CM pointed out.
“Tell me one place in which your three Bills have made any such promise to the farmers,” he dared Tomar. Contrary to Tomar’s allegations, there was no question of going back on the Congress promises, either at the national or state level, because at no point did the party make any promise to ruin the farmers, either in 2017 or in 2019, the CM said.
“The only freedom which the Central Government, including Tomar, was pleading for the farmers was from their livelihood,” said Amarinder, adding that the “well-established market system in Punjab had, for decades, given the farmers total security and protection from greedy and monopolistic private traders. By tearing the fabric of this system apart, the BJP simply wanted to give the lucrative agriculture trading business to their capitalist friends in the corporate world, just as they had already done in some other key sectors of growth”.
Tomar’s “tirade of fictions against the Punjab government and the Congress party” have exposed the Centre’s desperation to enforce the new laws on the farmers, by hook or by crook, he said.
“If the minister is so sincere about the welfare of the farmers, why does he not get the Bills amended to incorporate categorical and clear commitments by the Centre on retaining the MSP as well as the Mandi system,” asked Amarinder.
Protest, but follow Covid protocol: CM to farmers
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Thursday appealed to the farmers to strictly maintain law and order, and adhere to all Covid safety protocols, during Friday’s strike against the agriculture Bills.
“While the state government is fully with the farmers in their fight against the Bills, and no FIRs will be registered for violation of Section 144, there should be no disturbance of the law and order during the bandh,” Amarinder said.
He also urged the farmers, and other organisations supporting the bandh, to maintain social distancing and wear masks at all times. The state was already in the midst of a surge in Covid cases, and any violation of precautionary norms could lead to the situation spiralling out of control, he warned.
State Congress president Sunil Jakhar appealed to all Punjabis to make call given by farmers for Punjab bandh a success by all means and give a strong message to the central government.
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