Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday blamed the Congress for the displacement of Punjabi farmers in Gujarat's Kutch region.
The Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat is under fire for freezing agricultural land of these farmers. The BJP is the alliance partner of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab.
Speaking during the swearing-in of sarpanches and panchayat members here, Badal said then Congress government in Gujarat had in 1973 issued a circular stating that any agriculturist from outside Gujarat who purchased agricultural land in the state would be declared a 'non-agriculturist'. He said the decision to freeze agricultural land, which led to the farmers' displacement, was based on this circular.
Badal stated that instead of taking up the matter with senior leaders at the Centre, the Congress leadership in Gujarat was shedding crocodile tears.
He added that the Punjab government would fight the political and legal battle on priority for the sake of Punjabi farmers. "Our team is on the job and we will come up with the best possible way to negotiate with the Gujarat government," Badal said. The state government has already announced to provide legal assistance to aggrieved farmers and their families in Gujarat.
"The Congress has always been anti-farmer in general and anti-Punjab in particular," the CM said.
He claimed that instead of bailing out farmers from the traditional cycle of wheat and paddy, the Centre had mocked the state's farmers by allocating them a Rs. 200-crore crop diversification package, far less than Rs. 5,100 crore demanded by the state government.