Terming the President’s assent to the farm Bills as “unfortunate and distressing”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Sunday said his government is exploring all options, including possible amendments to the state laws, to protect farmers’ interests. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, on the other hand, said it was a “dark day for the country” as the President refused to act as the nation’s conscience”.
Asserting that his government was committed to the procurement of every single grain of farmers without compromising on the pricing, Amarinder said, “All farmer organisations and other stakeholders will be taken into confidence before taking any decision on the way forward”.
“The state government is already consulting legal and agriculture experts, and all those impacted by the Centre’s calamitous legislations to decide the future course of action,” he said, adding his government is looking at other options to scuttle the Centre’s new laws that are “designed to ruin Punjab’s farmers and economy”.
President Kovind Sunday gave assent to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.
Implementation of these new laws in their current form would destroy Punjab’s agriculture – the lifeline of its economy, said Amarinder. Meanwhile, Sukhbir said that his party will chalk out the next course of action after due deliberations. “We were very hopeful that the President will return these Bills to Parliament for reconsideration as demanded by the SAD and some other opposition parties,” he said.
A SAD delegation led by Sukhbir had met the President, urging him not to give his assent to the farm Bills and return them to Parliament for reconsideration.
The SAD on Saturday quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the farm legislations and the non-inclusion of Punjabi as official language in Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill.
The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, provides for inclusion of Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi in the list of official languages, in addition to Urdu and English.
The SAD chief also lamented that before drafting the farm legislations, his party was not consulted by the government. “There is only one party in the country which is called the party of farmers, poor and khet mazdoor (farm labour),” he claimed while addressing party workers at Rupnagar.
The SAD chief called upon all political parties and organisations to close ranks for a united fight. “We are ready to join or follow any struggle in the overall interest of farmers, farm labour, arhtiyas and other farm produce traders,” said Sukhbir.
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