Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged the Narendra Modi-led central government not to stand on ego and prestige and immediately scrap its controversial farm legislations and bring in new agriculture laws after fresh discussions on the issue with the farmers.
Addressing reporters on the completion of four years of his government, the CM said the Punjab government will go to the Supreme Court if the President does not given assent to the state amendment Bills, which the Governor was still sitting on instead of forwarding them for presidential approval even though the Assembly had unanimously passed the Bills with all parties voting for them.
Capt Amarinder said he could not see any middle path to break the stalemate between the farmers and the Union government. The BJPled Centre should scrap the farm laws, sit with the farmers and make new legislations in their place, he said.
“What’s the use of making it a prestige issue?” he remarked, asking the Centre, “How many more farmers do you want to kill (with your adamant stand)?”
There are poor farmers sitting and protesting on the roads with women and elderly, he pointed out, adding that Punjab alone has lost 112 farmers’ lives since the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws began. “The Constitution has been amended more than 100 times in the past, so why can it not be done again to scrap these laws?” he asked.The CM said he failed to understand why the Central government was trying to break the age-old time-tested relationship between farmers and Arhtiyas (grain commission agents). The new laws are not an improvement on the existing system but will destroy the farming sector, he said, asking where the poor farmers (comprising 75 per cent of Punjab’s farmers) would go in case of need once the Arhtiyas are replaced by big faceless corporates.
Delhi does not understand agriculture, the CM further remarked, in response to a question on the new FCI policy of direct payment to farmers, which he said he did not favour. In any case, he said, agriculture is a State subject and the Centre has no right to legislate on the matter. He flayed the central government for trying to destroy the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution by encroaching on state powers.
The Punjab CM opposed the policy of excessive regionalisation being followed by certain states, saying “Amarinder stands for India for Indians”. “I believe that India is one country,” he said, adding that too much regionalisation is not a good thing.Responding to a question on reservation in jobs for local youth, as recently announced by neighbouring Haryana, which has reserved 75 per cent of jobs for locals in the private sector, Amarinder said there was no state in India where Punjabis were not flourishing and doing a great job.