Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Friday lashed out at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership for terming the protesting farmers as anti-nationals and especially targeted Haryana Agriculture Minister JP Dalal saying that he should be ‘hung upside down’ (ennu putha tangna chahida) for saying that those who died at the Delhi borders during the ongoing agitation would have died anyway at home too.
Replying to the Governor’s address in Vidhan Sabha, Amarinder said that farmers and farm workers of Punjab are not anti-nationals but “are as patriotic and nationalistic as those who gave their lives for the country in Galwan valley last year to protect India’s integrity and sovereignty”.
Terming Dalal’s remarks as “disgraceful,” Amarinder said, “This is absurd. This is the agriculture minister. The duty of the agriculture minister is to speak of farmers’ welfare and their well-being and not undermine their hard work and sacrifice. I feel farmers should hang him upside down.”
He demanded an unconditional apology from Dalal for his “insensitive conduct”.
Earlier last month, Dalal, responding to a media query on over 200 farmers’ deaths during the ongoing stir had said, “Had they been at their homes, they would have died there also. Out of one to two lakh, don’t 200 people die in six months?”.
Hours later, Dalal said his statement had been twisted on the social media and “wrong meaning” was attributed to it. “If anybody is hurt by it, I tender my apology,” he had said.
Meanwhile, calling for an “immediate end to attempts to defame Punjabi farmers” by branding them Khalistanis or naxalites, the CM said, “They have never done anything anti-national, they are not anti-national, and they will never do anything against the unity and integrity of this country. They are patriotic and nationalistic – while one son ploughs the fields in the village, the other brother is busy guarding the country’s borders. These are the same people who gave their lives for the country in Galwan last year”.
Amarinder urged the Centre to “ensure that this defamation campaign against farmers is immediately ended”.
Pointing out that despite 11 rounds of discussions, the Centre was unmoved and unconcerned about the protests of the farmers across the country, and had not taken any positive step to meet their demands, Amarinder said that “instead, the statements and allegations of some of the leaders who are not familiar with the ground realities have aggravated the situation and have further anguished the farmers.”
Drawing the attention of the House to some of the statements of the BJP leaders at the Centre and in Punjab and Haryana, he said it was shameful that they were heading the governments at the national level and in the neighbouring states.
Taking exception to Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s allegation that the Punjab government was trying to mislead farmers, he said there was no reason for his government to interfere in the agitation as they had always been peaceful.
Reacting sharply to BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh’s allegation of misleading and deceptive narrative being created on the agricultural bills and causing misunderstanding to spread among the farmers, Amarinder asked why the Centre, with all the powers at its disposal, has failed to create a narrative favourable to the farmers.
Terming Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar’s conduct as “most regrettable”, Amarinder said the government of the neighbouring state had gone against the established norms of democratic functioning by using force against the agitators and also digging roads and putting barricades etc in their way.
He also lashed out at Khattar’s claim on his government having “inputs” on presence of Khalistani separatists in the ongoing farmers’ agitation, and also that “the Punjab CM is fanning this protest and office bearers of the Punjab CM’s office are leading the protest”.
“If the Haryana CM has any firm information on separatists, why does he not give such information to his party’s government in Delhi, instead of defaming the Punjabi farmers,” asked Amarinder, adding that Punjab does not instigate agitations, but refuses to interfere in most peaceful agitation of farmers being carried on in a democratic manner.
The Chief Minister also lambasted other BJP leaders like Ashwani Sharma, Harjit Singh Grewal and Surjit Singh Jiyani for their “shameful comments” and statements on the farmers’ agitation, terming their behaviour as “disgraceful”.
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