The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)’s president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was compromising the interests of Punjab by being “hand in glove” with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government in “punishing” the farmers of the state for protesting against the Centre’s three controversial agriculture laws.
Addressing a Press conference, the SAD president charged that the CM had “sold out” the interests of the state to the BJP. “Forget fighting for the rights of the state, Amarinder does not even raise the issues affecting the people of the state with the Central government. The CM had time and again agreed with all the anti-farmer steps taken by the Central government,” he said, adding that the CM was “afraid” of the Modi government.
Badal said farmers’ agitation against the new farm laws would not have started if Amarinder had taken prompt action when the agricultural Ordinances were being framed. He claimed that at that time the Punjab CM was part of the committee in which those Ordinances were discussed.
“Later when an opportunity arose to repeal the three agriculture Acts in the Punjab Assembly, the CM proposed amendments in the Acts instead of rejecting them altogether,” the SAD chief said.
Badal also charged that the CM recently indulged in a “drama” of opposing the Centre’s Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) scheme for procurement of farmers’ produce, which “he had agreed in writing to implement from this year”.
“Amarinder even assured farmers and ‘arhatiyas’ (grain commission agents) that this scheme would not be implemented in Punjab but the ministerial team led by finance minister Manpreet Badal meekly surrendered before the Centre in its meeting with food and public distribution minister Piyush Goyal,” the SAD chief said.
He said Capt Amarinder had similarly also “surrendered” before the Centre on the issue of seeking rightful compensation of Rs 800 crore for the state on account of Rural Development Fund (RDF). “It is the state’s right to impose taxes and the CM should not allow the Centre to infringe on the state’s powers in a federal set up,” Badal said.
He also castigated the CM for not opposing the increase in fertilizer prices, alleging that Amarinder’s “unholy tieup” with the BJP government was affecting the very livelihood of the farming community.
Badal said it was a matter of record that the Punjab CM has not met the Prime Minister even once to get the problems of the farmers resolved. “Punjabis have been left to their plight. In such a situation Amarinder has lost the moral right to continue in his chair. He should resign immediately,” he demanded.
Badal also appealed to PM Modi to hold a meeting with farmer organisations and resolve all their grievances including repealing the three farm laws.