Citing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s “poor track record” in the Bargari case, which it had closed without any investigation, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said his government will not allow the CBI to enter his state for a probe without prior permission.
Pointing out that eight states, including Punjab, had withdrawn permission to the central agency to enter without prior permission, CM Capt Amarinder charged that the CBI was being increasingly used to play politics and that a fair probe could not be ensured through the agency.
Dismissing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a nonentity in Punjab’s political arena, the CM told a TV channel that the BJP was welcome to contest all 117 Vidhan Sabha seats in the state though the party would not be able to win a single seat without an alliance partner. The Congress had, in fact, no challenge in Punjab, with even the Akalis and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) posing no threat to it, he claimed, adding that neither of these Opposition parties had “ever talked about anything positive in the interest of the state”.
With the Assembly elections in Punjab still around 18 months away, it was not possible to say which issue will dominate the polls, said Capt Amarinder, even as he expressed the hope that the BJP will resolve the farmers’ grievances soon.
Farmers want MSP to remain and the Government of India should take steps to ensure that, he said, lamenting the “adamant stand” being taken by both the Centre and the farmers, leading to the prolonged agitation which was affecting supplies to the frontline soldiers while damaging Punjab’s interests. He, however, said agitation was the democratic and constitutional right of farmers, which the central government had evidently realised, as apparent from their decision to call farmers unions for talks.
The CM iterated that corporates were welcome to buy foodgrains in Punjab as long as they follow the existing marketing system, built on close ties between farmers and Arhtiyas. He rejected the BJP charge that the Congress and other Opposition parties were misguiding the farmers, pointing out that the entire Legislative Assembly of Punjab had unanimously rejected the Centre’s farm laws, though some parties had subsequently made a U-turn due to political compulsions.
When the farm bills were brought in Parliament, the central government should have consulted all stakeholders, including the Punjab government, instead of passing them without discussion, Capt Amarinder charged.
Terming the dissent in the Congress a sign of internal democracy in the party, the CM said those who had written a letter to the party high command had been included in key committees constituted by party chief Sonia Gandhi.