Picking up from where he left during his party’s tractor rally earlier this month, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Saturday said the the Centre has launched an assault on Punjab and its farmers with the three “ill-conceived” farm laws that would also “weaken” the country’s foundation.
“These three laws are an attack on the soul of every farmer of this country, they are an attack on their sweat and blood. I came to Punjab and Haryana a few days ago and every farmer and labourer knows that these three laws are an attack on them,” Rahul said.
He said he was happy that the Punjab government has decided to convene a special session of the Assembly on October 19 where MLAs will “decide about these farm laws”.
Rahul was delivering a virtual address from Delhi at the launch of the second phase of ‘Smart Village Campaign’ in Punjab. Rs 2775 crore has been allocated to execute approximately 50,000 different development works under the campaign. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, some cabinet ministers, officials and sarpanches, attended the virtual launch from 1,500 locations.
The former AICC chief said, “Every building has a foundation. If that weakens the building falls. If Vidhan Sabha is the building, Panchayats and Sarpanches are the foundation. If we have to develop Punjab or India, we have to protect the building and the foundation,” he said, adding that the smart village campaign was aimed at that.
He said when Congress runs a programme, “We run it through medium of panchayats…If we thrust our programmes from the top without involving panchayats and area MLAs, it is bound to fail because it won’t involve people,” he said.
Hitting out at the BJP-led central government over the farm laws, he said, “They talk of the building, but they thrust schemes from the top without talking to the panchayat and the people and their laws weaken India’s foundation”.
“If these laws were in favour of farmers and labourers, then why did the government not allow a debate before these were passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha? Why were they afraid of a debate? In Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, voice of India’s farmers was suppressed. I am happy that in Punjab Assembly, farmers, labourers’ voice will be heard in the special session,” he added.
Meanwhile, Amarinder said the Centre’s new farm laws will be debated in the special session of the Assembly on Monday with the aim to aggressively and effectively combat the damaging impact of the legislations on farmers.
Asserting that his government will take all steps to counter the “black laws” and protect the farmers of Punjab, Amarinder said he will spend every single day of the rest of his life for the revival of Punjab.
He also announced his government’s decision to give proprietary rights to those settled in “Lal Dora” land for long. ‘Lal Dora” refers to land that is part of the village ”abadi” (habitation) and is used for non-agriculture purposes only.
Expressing happiness on Rahul being part of the event, the chief minister said Smart Village Campaign would lead to the creation of enormous rural infrastructure to raise the living standard and quality of life by capitalising on technological advances, as part of his government’s Rural Transformation Strategy. He assured that adequate allocation would be made for the schemes to be undertaken under the second phase.
The first phase of the campaign, launched in 2019, had focused on core areas like renovation of ponds, street lights, parks, gymnasiums, community halls, drinking water supply, smart schools and solid waste management
For the second phase, adequate funds had already been transferred to all 13,264 gram panchayats, Amarinder said, adding that his government intends to give assistance to those house-owners who are living in houses having temporary roofs. The intention is “Har ghar pakki chhat”.
In addition, 750 stadiums are being taken up for development in rural areas. A target of minimum five stadiums per block has been allotted. New designs of 4-acre, 2-acre and 1 acre playgrounds have been developed.
Speaking on the occasion, Rural Development & Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa lauded the panchayats for taking keen interest in the execution of development schemes under smart village campaign in a time-bound manner. This, he said, had encouraged the state government to provide a 3-fold hike in the capital outlay in the second phase.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said though Punjab was passing through financial crisis, the development tempo, in both rural and urban sectors, continued to be high.
PPCC president Sunil Jakhar said the smart village campaign would go a long way in transforming the rural scenario in line with the dream of Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Punjab Youth Congress president Barinder Singh Dhillon flayed the CM’s detractors, saying, ‘‘You can take Amarinder out of Punjab, but you can’t take Punjab out of Amarinder.’’
Meanwhile, five sarpanches — Buta Singh from village Pilkhani and Harbhajan Singh from village Mahadipur in Patiala, Rupinder Kaur from village Patton and Jagtar Singh of village Bakarpur in the SAS Nagar (Mohali) and Satnam Kaur from village Hawara Kalan in Fatehgarh Sahib — interacted with Amarinder and gave inputs about the ongoing development works in their villages
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