The Punjab government will take the BJP and its allies, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, to the court over the “unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-farmer” laws of the Centre, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Sunday said and vowed “to fight till his last breath to protect the interests of the state’s farmers”.
“We will move the court and fight the draconian legislations as soon as they get the presidential nod and become the law of the land,” the chief minister said.
Amid an uproar by the opposition, the Rajya Sabha Sunday passed the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. They will now be sent for President’s assent. A third Bill could not be taken up for discussion.
Expressing shock at the way the BJP-led Union government “brute-forced” the agriculture Bills through the Rajya Sabha, he questioned the rationale behind putting the “controversial and vicious” legislations to voice vote despite strong reservations by the Opposition and inadequate numbers in the House.
“Why did the House not go for division of votes on this critical issue, which has even divided the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA),” he asked.
Amarinder said the Bills were a “blatant encroachment” on the state’s powers and control of the agriculture sector. He said his government will not allow the Union government, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) “shamelessly” continues to be a part, to “trample” upon the rights and interests of farmers through the “cruel” legislations designed to “destroy” the farmers.
“We stand with the farmers and will do whatever it takes to protect their interests,” he said.
“They (BJP and its allies) clearly don’t care for what these laws will do to the farmers,” he said, flaying the BJP-led government for “selling” interests of the farmers to big corporates.
BJP’s so-called “watershed moment” will be the “death” of agriculture and will “endanger” the nation’s food security, warned the CM.
By pushing the Bills through without consultation with key stakeholders and even without taking the government of Punjab into confidence, the Union government has shown that it has “no concern” whatsoever for farmers or the farm sector, he said.
The senior Congress leader said the Bills nowhere make any mention of retaining the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism. “This clearly exposes the ill intent of the Centre, which has a poor trust record as far as states go. If they cannot adhere to clearly defined provisions on the Goods and Services Tax), how can one trust them to uphold their verbal assurances on the MSP,” Amarinder asked.
The CM asked if these legislations are actually revolutionary and in the interests of farmers.
“Farmers are not fools and will not be marching to Delhi, braving a pandemic, if they did not find the Bills damaging and detrimental to their interests,” he said.
Every single provision of these Bills is crafted to “destroy” lakhs of small and marginal farmers, who could not hope to compete in the “monopolistic system” that the Centre aimed at bringing into the sector. “Where will these poor farmers go to sell their produce with the states no longer the pivotal players in the entire agricultural marketing system,” he asked.
He claimed farmers were nowhere near getting the government-mandated MSP on their foodgrains in the open market that exists even today to a limited extent.
Amarinder said it was “unfortunate” that instead of strengthening the state-led marketing system, the Centre has chosen to “end” it completely.
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