Tribune News Service
Amritsar, September 22
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said on Tuesday that he would hold a protest against the controversial farm Bills at Hall Gate with councillors from his constituency Amritsar East.
Sidhu’s announcement came in response to Congress party’s call asking its Members of Legislative Assembly to hold protests against the Bill.
Sidhu held a press conference to show solidarity with farmers, and asked Punjab’s farmer unions to form cooperatives with small farmers as equal partners to protect them from exploitation by capitalists. He also said challenging the Bill in the Supreme Court appears to be the best way to counter the central government’s decision.
“There is a need to chalk out a common minimum programme to safeguard the farmers’ interests,” he said, adding that farmers of Punjab and Haryana contributed substantially to distributing food through the public distribution system.
“The Union government has made the mistake of choosing a failed free-market structure from the US and Europe over India’s successful ‘mandi pattern’. The move will favour big crony capitalists at the cost of public enterprises, farmers and labour of India,” he said, adding that the Bills will also adversely affect India’s federal structure and impinge up state government’s jurisdiction.
“The farm Bills will damage the Punjab’s revenue source. The farm Bill takes away the livelihood of 28,000 arhtiyas, and 4-5 lakh mandi labours of Punjab. Punjab has 1850 purchase centres including 152 big mandis. Who will spare a thought to 28,000 arhtiyas and 4-5 lakh allied labours of mandis who were on the verge of losing their livelihood,” he said.
“ Only the six per cent India’s farmers were benefitted of the basic MSP, whereas the 94 per cent who roam the markets end up compromising on doing petty labour jobs to make both ends meet”, he said.
He also claimed that the Bills could lead to “unprecedented” food inflation.
“The Bill will legitimise hoarding. Hoarders would sell that produce at much higher prices, leading to food inflation,” he said.
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