Amid confrontation with the Centre over its farm laws and President Ram Nath Kovind not granting him audience over the matter, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday announced he will lead a relay dharna at Delhi’s Rajghat to highlight the state’s power crisis and shortage of essential supplies.
The crisis, triggered by the suspension of goods trains, aggravated further in the state, resulting in complete shut-down of all power plants and severe curtailment of agricultural and vegetable supplies.
As Section 144 is in place in Delhi, Congress MLAs will walk from Punjab Bhawan till Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘samadhi’ in batches of four, Singh said, adding that he will lead the first batch at 10.30 a.m. Amarinder reiterated his appeal to MLAs from other parties to also join the dharna.
The last of the state’s private power plants, GVK, was shut down earlier today after running out of coal stocks. Public power plants in the state had already shut down earlier.
The Chief Minister said the situation on the ground was grim as the state had run out of coal, urea/DAP and other essential supplies due to the decision of the Railways not to ply goods trains even after farmers protesting against the farm laws eased their blockade. The people of Punjab were staring at a dark festival season, he said.
He pointed out that the suspension of goods trains is also impacting states such as Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. He reiterated his warning that the armed forces would become sitting ducks for the enemies if they do not get their essential supplies before snow sets in.
Soon after the Vidhan Sabha session, in which all parties had unanimously resolved to seek time from the President for November 4 (or any other suitable date) to seek his intervention on the Farm Bills issue, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) had, on October 21, sent a letter to Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking a meeting. A reminder was subsequently sent on October 29. However, the request was rejected on grounds that the State Amendment Bills are still pending with the Governor. Subsequently, the CMO sent another letter stating that the Chief Minister and other MLAs needed time to bring to the President’s notice the situation on the ground and to seek his intervention for a quick resolution. However, the President’s Office responded saying “the request cannot be accepted at this juncture for reasons cited earlier.”
Expressing concern over the development, the Chief Minister said as far as the State Amendment Bills, introduced under Article 254 (ii), were concerned, the Governor’s role was limited to forwarding the same to the President in accordance with the Constitutional provisions. In any case, as the letter from his office had made it clear, that was not the only issue on which the state needed the President’s intervention, he added.
The Chief Minister also took serious note of the refusal of two central ministers to meet Congress MPs from Punjab to discuss grave issues of importance to the state. The ministers had sought time from Railways and Finance Ministers to discuss suspension of goods trains and non-payment of GST dues.
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