Sunday, September 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Badal flays CM for ‘misgovernance’
Tribune News Service

Chhapar, September 21
President of the SAD Mr Parkash Singh Badal today accused the Punjab Chief Minister of gross lack of concern and not making strong representation to the Centre in respect of MSP and compensation for the drought hit farmers.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion of the Chhapar mela here today, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had spoiled the case of the farmers by making repeated public announcements that there was no drought in the state since it depended on subsoil water for agriculture.

He criticised those ministers who were accusing him of trying to use his clout with the Centre for a raw deal to the state. This was not correct since he was a son of the soil and would never do so for political mileage. The performance of the SAD was a proof of the fact that the Dal had always fought for the cause of the farmers.

Mr Badal said that he had personally requested the PM to ensure a remunerative MSP for the farmers and to fix it at Rs 760 per quintal. I have also demanded that the 7.5 per cent purchase tax should be included in the MSP. He said that this would go against not only all established and agreed norms on the issue but would also hit the farm sector. This, Mr Badal, told the Prime Minister, would have spiral effect on the entire economy in the country. He has also requested the central government to start procurement in the state without further delay. He also disclosed that he had written to the Prime Minister on the subject this morning. A delegation of Akali leaders is also meeting the Union Government leaders to impress upon them the need of giving substantial raise in the MSP and to start procurement immediately.

The Akali leaders made scathing attacks on Captain Amarinder Singh’s style of governance, alleging that considerations of luxury and personal comfort took precedence over hard work to fight for the interests of the state. “When I was the Chief Minister, I used to spend week after week camping in Delhi to influence the Union Government on the requirements and demands of the farmers and other sections of society in the state. The issue of MSP always requires hard efforts as the state government has to contend against strong anti-farmer lobbies in the administration on the one hand and the competitive demands made by other states on the other. But the Chief Minister has not gone to Delhi even once to present the case of his state. The present rulers in Chandigarh have farmers let the down by their casual approach to an issue of life and death for the people of the state.” The Akali Dal president asked the Chief Minister to explain the basis of his earlier stand that Punjab did not face the problem of drought. “Ordinarily, the Chief Ministers tend to highlight the problems of the people, sometimes even erring on the side of exaggeration to ensure basic minimum guaranteed help from the Centre. Captain Amarinder Singh is the only Chief Minister in the history of the state to go against the interests of the Punjab farmers by refusing to accept the argument of their problem on drought-like situation.”

Mr Badal also decried the reign of vendetta let loose against Akali, and BJP workers in the state. “All this is being done to stop the opposition leaders from highlighting the problems of the people and raising their voice in favour of the suffering sections of society in the state. The SAD would not be cowed by these tactics and fight against it till the entire structure of tyranny and injustice was dismantled.” Mr Badal issued a note of warning to the Congress leaders to remain prepared to face the consequences of their actions. “They must get ready to reap what they are sowing now. Every act of vendetta will be repaid with interest.” he declared.

Earlier, the Union Minister for Labour, Mr Ashok Pradhan, declared that the Centre was deeply concerned at the atmosphere of tension and repression let loose in the state by the government and will not allow it go on. “I have come here to deliver a message on behalf of the Union Government. The Centre is observing the situation closely and keeping tab on every single act of misuse of government power. This will not go unpunished.”

Mr Pardhan disclosed that the state government had not presented the case of the state farmers before the Centre almost till the whole issue of MSP had been decided in principle. There were also confused signals from different quarters of the state administration on the gravity of the situation created by drought.” They have completely relinquished their responsibility in this regard.”

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