Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday again flayed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- led Central government for allegedly encroaching upon the rights of the states in its bid to “dominate” them.
Keeping his guns trained on the Centre, Capt Amarinder castigated it over its “one-sided decision” to forcibly impose the controversial farm laws and the direct bank transfer (DBT) scheme on the state’s farming community.
States never faced such problems earlier, the CM said, slamming the Narendra Modi government for trying to “destroy” the existing relations and systems that had worked well for more than 100 years, in the name of so called reforms, which “they were trying to impose without taking the stakeholders into confidence”.
Punjab’s farmers have age old cordial ties with arhtiyas (grain commission agents), which the Centre was hell bent on damaging, Capt Amarinder charged, terming the Centre’s “tough posturing and ill-conceived decisions” as being against the basic spirit of federalism.
The CM said during his earlier tenure he enjoyed the full confidence and support of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and subsequently of Dr Manmohan Singh, in all major policy decisions issues related to Punjab.
Virtually launching the two-day Kisan Mela organised by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, the CM expressed his total solidarity with the farmers against the “black farm laws” imposed by the Centre in alleged violation of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, which clearly states that agriculture is a State subject.
The Centre has deliberately impinged upon the state’s powers, thus jeopardizing the basic structure of democracy, he alleged.
Capt Amarinder stressed that the Centre should have taken the farmers into confidence before enactment of these contentious legislations. “Had the Centre been sincere about finding a workable solution to this problem, it would have either consulted the Punjab government or the state’s farmers, as Punjab alone contributes over 40 per cent of foodgrains to the national pool,” he asserted.
The CM said Punjab, which was initially not even a part of the deliberations on the agricultural reforms, was included in the high-powered committee only after he wrote to the Centre. Consequently, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal and the then secretary agriculture KS Pannu attended the two meetings held thereafter but there was no mention of these controversial farm laws at these meetings, he said.
Pointing out that 144 farmers have died so far during their agitation against farm laws, Capt Amarinder said his Congress government was giving Rs five lakh and a job to a kin of the deceased farmer, while the Centre continued to be insensitive to their pain and anguish.