Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh continued to trade barbs on Monday after the Congress leader alleged that the former was trying to exploit the ongoing farmers’ protest.
Kejriwal accused the Punjab chief minister of colluding with the Centre. “Captain ji [Amarinder Singh], I have been standing with the farmers since the beginning,” Kejriwal said in a tweet. “I didn’t let the Delhi stadiums turn into jails, fought the Centre. I am serving the farmers being a serviceman.”
He added: “You colluded with the Centre to have an ED [Enforcement Directorate] case against your son settled and sold the farmers’ protest? Why?”
On Sunday, Singh had criticised Kejriwal after the Delhi chief minister announced that he would observe a one-day fast in response to the call given by the farmers. Singh said that Kejriwal was “exploiting” the farmers’ agitation to “further his party’s petty electoral agenda with blatant lies and brazenly false propaganda”, according to News18.
“In sharp contrast to the Kejriwal government in Delhi, which had been thriving on corporate houses’ crumbs, the Punjab government had neither signed any agreement with Adani Power nor was even aware of the private players bidding for power purchase in the state,” said the Punjab chief minister.
Singh also pointed out that the Kejriwal government had “shamelessly” notified the farm laws on November 23 when the farmers were preparing to march to Delhi for the protests. “And now they’re indulging in theatrics by announcing that they’d be sitting on fast in support of the farmers’ hunger strike on Monday,” he had said.
The Punjab CM added that the Kejriwal government was busy “playing politics” instead of doing anything constructive to help the agitating farmers. “At a time when our farmers are braving the winter cold on the roads outside your city, and many of them are dying fighting for their rights, all you can think of is how to make the most of the opportunity to promote your political interests,” he said.
Singh had criticised the Delhi chief minister for notifying the farm laws earlier as well. The next day, on on December 2, Kejriwal had accused the Punjab chief minister of indulging in “low-level” politics. “Punjab CM has made allegations against me that I’ve passed the black laws in Delhi,” Kejriwal had said. “How can he do such low-level politics in this fragile situation? It’s not up to the state government to implement it. Had it been so why would farmers of the country hold talks with Centre.”
Hold fast for our farmer brothers, appeals Kejriwal
Meanwhile, the Delhi chief minister appealed to people to hold a one-day fast to show solidarity to the agitating farmers and their call for a hunger strike, which began at 8 am on Monday. “Fasting is sacred,” Kejriwal tweeted. “Wherever you are, fast for our farmer brothers. Pray to God for the success of their struggle. In the end, farmers will definitely win.”
The farmers’ protest
The farmers’ agitation against the new laws entered its 19th day on Monday. Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi.
The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.
On December 9, the farmers had rejected the Centre’s written proposal on the amendments it was willing to make to the three agriculture laws, and threatened to intensify their protests. Both parties had also held several rounds of talks but failed to reach a consensus.