Whole country is with farmers, says Punjab CM

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh, (Asian independent) Reiterating that the farm laws are anti-farmer which were introduced without any discussion with the stakeholders, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that the unity showcased by the farmers through the Bharat Bandh has underscored the need for repealing the laws, followed by a detailed discussion on agricultural reforms.

The Chief Minister asked why the Centre could not heed the demands of the farmers, who are agitating across the country to scrap these laws and hold fresh talks with all the stakeholders.

“Had I been in their place, I would not have taken a minute to accept my mistake and revoke the laws,” he said.

Asserting that the whole country is standing with the farmers in their pain and in their fight for survival, Amarinder Singh said the Centre should allow the existing system to continue instead of scrapping the arhtiya and mandi system, as the farm laws are designed to do.

“Why are they doing away with it? They should let the farmers decide what they want,” he said, adding that nobody is stopping private players from purchasing agri produce but it could not be allowed at the cost of the well-established system which had stood the farmers in good stead all these decades.

The Chief Minister further demanded to know why the government of India is not willing to give legitimacy to minimum support price (MSP), if its assertion of not abolishing it is sincere.

“MSP is our right,” he said, adding that “if MSP is not guaranteed and another political party, apart from the Congress and the BJP, comes to power at the Centre, who will take the responsibility of the farmers getting their minimum due?”.

He pointed out that the foodgrains bought at MSP are pushed into the PDS to feed the country’s poor and all that would end if MSP goes.

There is no reason why the Centre can’t listen to the farmers, who are braving the cold, and send them home happily after resolving their concerns, said Amarinder Singh.

This is what he had told Union Home Minister Amit Shah too, Amarinder Singh said, adding that he urged Shah to do everything possible to resolve the concerns of the poor farmers in their interest, and also in the interest of India’s security.

Categorically rejecting the BJP’s allegation that the Congress manifesto had also talked of scrapping the APMC Act, the Chief Minister said his party or the Manmohan Singh government never said the existing system should be discontinued.

The Congress manifesto spoke about modernisation and not about doing away with what we have, he said.

Making it clear that nobody is against private players, the Chief Minister pointed out that even now he is in talks with the UAE for supply of wheat and rice, and the country wants to create storage facilities in India, including Punjab.

In fact, even in his last tenure as the CM, he tried to launch the farm-to-fork programme to promote private investment in agriculture related fields like storage, cold-chain, food processing etc. within the existing system but the Akalis later shelved it.