Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday told farmers protesting against the Centre’s agricultural laws to not stage agitations in the state and instead do it in Delhi or Haryana, reported NDTV.
“Even today, farmers are protesting at 113 locations in the state and it is affecting our development,” Singh said at a foundation-laying ceremony for a government college in Hoshiarpur district’s Mukhliana village.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi’s border points since November, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws passed in September. Ten months later, protests against the laws continue to be staged in many parts of the country.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party-run Central government claims the laws would free up India’s troubled agricultural sector by giving farmers more choice of buyers for their produce, farmer groups say the laws are a ploy to corporatise the sector and would lead to crony capitalism.
In October, Punjab became the first state to formally reject the controversial laws by approving three bills to counter the legislations.
On Monday, Singh told the farm unions that his government has already expressed solidarity with them on the matter, reported News18.
The chief minister advised the farm unions to mount pressure on the central government to withdraw the farm laws.
Singh said that the Constitution had been amended 127 times since 1950. “So why not one more time to repeal the farm laws for providing succour to farmers who have been sitting at Singhu and Tikri borders?” he asked.
The chief minister also alleged that the farm laws were drafted with the consent of the Shiromani Akali Dal.
He claimed that Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal and party leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal were in favour of the legislations but later made a “U-turn” and started opposing them.
The Shiromani Akali Dal had quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in September last year over differences on the farm laws. Harsimrat Kaur Badal had also quit Narendra Modi’s Cabinet.
On Monday, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Opposition parties in Punjab criticised the chief minister for asking farmers to spare Punjab from their protests
“He [Singh] relaxes in his plush palace while our farmers are dying roughing it out on roads of Delhi in extreme weather conditions over last 10 months,” Badal tweeted. “This was his plan all along.”
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson spokesperson Neel Garg said that the chief minister seems to be siding with Modi on the farm laws.
“Every section of the society, be it farmers, students or traders will be impacted by these farm laws,” Garg said. “Is Chief Minister Amarinder Singh trying to create a wedge between traders and farmers?”
Garg asked: “If you are so concerned about the economic condition of the state, then do share how many new industries have been set up in the state?”
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said that Singh’s comments were “irresponsible”. “This proves that Amarinder Singh has done the work of instigating the farmers,” he said in a tweet.