Ahead of the farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march scheduled on Feb 21, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher targeted the Centre, saying that the government is stopping the farmers from entering Delhi and farmers should be allowed to hold their march on Wednesday.
Even as the Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh on Thursday handed over the third installment of farm debt waiver certificates to eligible farmers, the Opposition parties accused the Congress government of playing “cheap politics” over the issue and insulting farmers in the name of a loan waiver.
The leader of Opposition and Aam Aadmi Party leader, Sukhpal Singh Khaira said the CM is indulging in cheap political gimmickry by holding functions to glorify absolutely meager, laughable and non productive debt waiver being given to the aggrieved farmers.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said it was shocking that the Congress government was using popular singers and an advertisement blitzkrieg to befool Punjabis into thinking that a farm loan waiver was taking place in Punjab. The Congress government has failed keep promise for waiving off Rs 90,000 Crore farm loans taken from nationalised and co-operative banks as well as private money lenders, SAD said.
The CM, however, pointed out that despite the massive financial crisis facing the state, his government was giving the maximum financial assistance to the farmers in terms of debt waiver relief up to Rs Two Lakh. This was the highest in the country, he said, adding that in case of Uttar Pradesh it was Rs One lakh, while the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra were waiving off only Rs 50,000 each.
In a Press statement, Khaira said that the act of CM Amarinder handing over debt relief certificates to poor needy farmers on the stage during said functions, smacked of cheapness by a feudal, besides rubbing salt on the wounds of debt ridden farmers.
“It was a shame for Amarinder that 390 farmers and khet mazdoor (farm labourers) had committed suicide till yesterday, during his tenure of one year. Instead of holding functions and calling singers to celebrate his bogus debt waiver, Amarinder should apologise to the families of the 390 farmers who have committed suicide due to his false promises,” he said.
Khaira said if Amarinder is genuinely concerned about the pitiable plight of debt ridden farmers, he should simply transfer the money into the bank accounts of the farmers, instead of spending crores of public exchequer money to gain petty political mileage out of these functions.
In Gurdaspur, the CM handed over third installment of farm debt waiver certificates to eligible farmers from six districts – Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur.
Amarinder said his government has also decided to give financial assistance worth Rs 50,000 each to the landless labourers to bail them out of the current agrarian crisis. He disclosed that so far debt relief to the tune of Rs 457 Crore had been disbursed to nearly 1.02 lakh farmers in three different phases, covering the 16 districts.