Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 29
Hit them where it hurts the most — this is what the 31 farmers’ unions in Punjab have decided on intensifying their agitation against the new farm Laws, beginning October 1.
Extending his government’s full support to the farmers agitating against the farm Bills, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday assured farmers of all possible legal and other steps to fight the “draconian” new farm laws, including a special session of the Vidhan Sabha to discuss and decide the way forward.
Chairing a meeting with representatives of 31 farmers’ unions to take their views on the matter, the Chief Minister said he would be discussing the issue with his legal team later today to finalise the next steps, including challenging the farm laws in the Supreme Court.
With the farmers unanimous in their opinion that the laws were meant to favour corporates, all 30 farm unions have accepted to join in the protest of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) of ghearoing the Corporate Businesses.
Even as Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh extended his government’s full support to the agitating farmers in these “dark and difficult times”, the Unions have decided on a three-pronged strategy — gherao residences of all BJP leaders; gherao businesses owned by MNCs; Rail Roko across the state; and energising the Gram panchayats to pass resolutions against the farm laws.
Before the representatives of the farmers’ unions met the Chief Minister, they met at Kisan Bhawan here on Tuesday morning. The farmer leaders were unanimous in their opinion that a Special Session of the Vidhan Sabha should also be convened by the Chief Minister to reject the law and come up with a law of their own that can circumvent these three laws enacted by the BJP-led Centre.
Besides farmers’ representatives, AICC general secretary in-charge Harish Rawat, Cabinet Ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar and Advocate General Atul Nanda attended the meeting.
“We will take all possible steps to counter the Union Government’s assault on the state’s federal and Constitutional rights and fight for the interests of the farmers,” Captain Amarinder assured the farmers’ representatives. If the legal experts advise amendment to the state laws to fight the central laws, a special session of the Vidhan Sabha would be immediately called to do so, he said.
Met with representatives of various Farmer Organisations of Punjab. My Govt will fight till the very last to save our farmers & their livelihoods. We are exploring all legal avenues against these Anti-Farmer Legislations and would not let our farmers be affected in any way. pic.twitter.com/hAGo5HxnmO— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) September 29, 2020
He made it clear that the government had no qualms about convening an Assembly session if that was the best course in the circumstances. However, he trashed SAD president Sukhbir Badal’s demand for a special Vidhan Sabha session as “cheap gimmickry” after their active support to the central laws for months.
The Chief Minister slammed the Akalis for pawning off farmers’ interests to large corporates to promote their petty political interests, pointing out that the SAD MLAs had chosen to stay away from the Vidhan Sabha session during which the resolution against the farm Bills was passed.
“It was clear,” he said, “that the Akalis, led by Sukhbir Badal, had been wholeheartedly supporting the farm Ordinances throughout and only backed out once their position in Punjab became untenable amid widespread angst among the farmers. If they were so concerned about the farmers’ interests, why did Harsimrat Badal not resign from the Union Cabinet the moment the Farm Ordinances were brought in by the Centre?”
Asserting that the Centre had no right to enact these laws as it amounted to a violation of the Constitution and attack on the federal structure, the Chief Minister said his government shared the concerns of the farmers and would do whatever it took to scuttle the Union Government’s attempt to ruin the farming community with these “draconian legislations”.
“The battle will be fought on all fronts,” the Chief Minister said, adding that besides the Congress signature campaign, announced on Monday by Harish Rawat, all Panchayats in the state would be requested to pass resolutions against the agriculture Acts and the same would be sent to the Union Government.
Declaring that his government and the Punjab Congress was with the farmers in this ‘aukhi ghari’ (difficult time), Captain Amarinder said he would take the suggestions of the Kisan Unions to legal experts to finalise the next course of action.
If the new laws were implemented, it would spell the end of agriculture, said the Chief Minister, warning that “in the times ahead, the Government of India will follow up these legislations with the elimination of MSP and FCI, bringing an end to the time-tested farming procurement and marketing system as we know it”.
“The mandis, that have existed and worked well for more than 60 years, will be wiped out and with MSP also ending, wheat will be sold the same way as maize currently is – at much lower prices than dictated by the MSP,” he added.
The farmers not just in Punjab but across the country would be ruined, the Chief Minister said, underlining the need to “fight these draconian laws tooth and nail to saving agriculture”.
He said he had written to the Prime Minister thrice before the Bills were passed, urging him to not go ahead with the move as it would create immense problems for the whole nation but he did not get any response. Even his request for the bonus on paddy to check stubble burning, especially in these COVID times, had gone unheard, he said.
“The Government of India could not be trusted to protect the farmers’ interests on its own,” he said, pointing out that the state had not received their rightful GST compensation from the Centre for eight months.
Promising to fight the farm Laws shoulder to shoulder with farmers, Jakhar said he was ready to quit the PPCC presidentship to join their protests without making it a political act.
“They (Centre) have killed the farmers with a pen. We will have to find a way to kill them with a pen,” he said, quipping: “Kalam naal marya hai, assi kalam naal bachavange” (We will save the farmers with the pen).
Earlier, several farmer leaders urged the Chief Minister to challenge the central laws legally and take whatever other steps needed to protect the farmers, including blocking construction of Adani’s silos in the state. They all reposed their faith in Captain Amarinder to save the farmers from this catastrophe.
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