Updated: October 19, 2020 7:55:57 am
Ahead of a two-day special Assembly session, beginning today, to discuss and counter the three central farm laws, the Punjab Cabinet Sunday authorised Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to take any legislative or legal decision he may deem fit without “caring for the consequences”.
The Cabinet meeting was held after a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in which the MLAs unanimously stressed the need to reject the farm laws even if Centre “dismisses” the state government. Sources said the during the two meetings, Cabinet ministers as well as the MLAs, asked Amarinder not to shy away from any confrontation with Centre.
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“Amid total consensus among Punjab Congress MLAs on the need to reject the farm laws outright and not implement them in the state, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday called for a frontal attack against the legislations, even as he was authorised by his council of ministers to take any legislative/legal decision he may deem fit to protect the interests of the farmers,” said a government statement.
A source, privy to the developments in the two meetings, said, “The narrative was to find a way to ensure that two types of mandis (private and government) should not exist in the state. The Centre’s laws provide for setting up of private mandis. The ministers wanted the CM to ensure that a legislation is brought through which Punjab refuses to allow any private mandis to be set up in state.”
The source added that the government was working on this line while trying to ensure that the farmers feel that the Congress dispensation is on their side. Several MLAs also suggested that the legislation should not allow any private trader to procure farmers’ produce at rates below MSP and if anyone was caught doing so, they should be imprisoned for one year and fined Rs 5 lakh.
In the meetings, Congress leaders reminded Amarinder of the stand he took during his previous tenure on sharing water with neighbouring Haryana. “It was during his previous tenure that Punjab had annulled water sharing accords, creating history. He (Amarinder) can do the same (with the three central farm laws),” said a Congress leader, adding that the government had been working on the lead given by AICC president Sonia Gandhi to all party ruled states asking them to explore legal provision under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution of India. The provision allows a state law to prevail over a conflicting central law in some circumstances.
Taking a dig at the SAD, the CM said the Congress was not “double faced” and had a clear stand on the issue. He said contrary to what the BJP and its leaders had been claiming, Punjab was never consulted on farm legislations.
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