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Punjab CM playing with farmers’ sentiments with invalid Bills: AAP

Bhagwant Mann’s attack on Capt Amarinder comes a day after the latter tore into Arvind Kejriwal over his bid to question legality of Punjab Bills passed by its Assembly to negate the Centre’s farm laws

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

The president of Punjab’s principal Opposition party Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bhagwant Mann, today accused chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh of playing with the sentiments of farmers and farm labourers by telling “lies” about the state Bills brought in by his Congress government to negate the Centre’s controversial farm laws.

The Punjab Assembly had last Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution and three new state Bills to negate the Narendra Modi government’s “anti-farmers” agriculture sector laws. Punjab thus became the first state in the country to formally reject the Centre’s controversial farm laws.

The Punjab AAP chief, however, went after Capt Amarinder, saying “If the Bills passed in the specially-convened Punjab Assembly session were valid, the Amarinder Singh government would not have run away from including procurement of cotton crop and other crops at MSP in these Bills.”

In a statement, Mann, who is also an MP, charged that the CM was playing “hide and seek with the gullible farmers in collusion with Prime Minister Modi“ by bringing in Bills in the Punjab Assembly to negate the laws passed by Parliament. He claimed it to be a “well thought-out ploy to torpedo the peasant struggle” against the Centre’s controversial agri laws.

He lamented the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government for cotton and maize were completely flouted in Punjab ‘mandis’, forcing farmers to sell their produce at Rs 1000 per quintal less as against Rs 5745 and Rs 1870 per quintal for cotton and maize, respectively.

The AAP leader asked the CM to tell the people at large, especially farmers of Punjab, whether the Punjab Assembly had the legal and constitutional right to go for amendments in the Bills already passed by Parliament.

He further asked if these laws guarantee the farmers the purchase of wheat and paddy crop at MSP.

Mann said the Amarinder government was trying to ‘befool’ farmers, adding that until or unless the Punjab government enacts its own law guaranteeing government procurement of all crops at MSP, the farmers would continue to suffer forever. He charged that the CM had played another “cruel joke” with the farmers by not including cotton, cottonseed, maize, sunflower and sugarcane in the Bills passed by the state Assembly.

Mann’s attack came a day after Capt Amarinder tore into his Delhi counterpart and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal on this issue.

“Are you with the farmers or against them,” Capt Amarinder yesterday asked Kejriwal after the latter questioned the legality and constitutionality of the state Bills.

The Punjab CM charged that his Delhi counterpart seemed to be working in “collusion with the BJP to ruin farmers”.

Reacting to Kejriwal’s tweet raising doubts about the effectiveness of the amendment Bills passed by the Punjab Assembly, Capt Amarinder said it “smacked of total ignorance” on the part of the Delhi CM.

It was a different matter that he could not blame Kejriwal for such ignorance considering that Delhi is not really a state, as a result of which its CM did not know the legal nitty-gritty of running a state, Capt Amarinder quipped, taking a jibe at Kejriwal’s alleged lack of knowledge on matters concerning states.

The Punjab CM said he thought the AAP supremo was aware of the Constitution, which says that under Article 254 (II) states can seek amendment to central laws for local and contextual needs, as has been done in many cases, especially in CPC and CrPC laws. “Maybe you could check it (the Constitutional provision) now!” Capt Amarinder told Kejriwal.

The Punjab CM also said that instead of questioning his government’s Bills, it would be better for Kejriwal to “get out of your IT mindset” and ask the AAP’s Punjab unit to back the Punjab government in its fight for the rights of the farmers, unless their support to our Bills was just a façade.