Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh declined Parkash Singh Badal's offer for tea and chose instead to sweat it out with his supporters in the humid heat outside the Punjab chief minister's official residence in Chandigarh on Friday morning, demanding the release of Rs 90 crore to cooperative sugar mills and Rs 700-crore compensation for rain-hit farmers.
The Patiala royal led the Congress team, including leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sunil Jakhar and 22 legislators, to Badal's residence around 11.30am, minutes after the chief minister left having waited for Amarinder for 25 minutes. Badal had earlier said that Congress leaders were welcome to his residence any time.Addressing the supporters outside the gate, Amarinder said: "I am not here for tea or coffee but to take up the demands of the farmers. The state government should release Rs 90 crore to cooperative sugar mills so that they can clear the outstanding dues of cane growers. We also want Rs 700 crore be released to compensate farmers for the crops damaged due to unseasonal rains earlier this year."
Jakhar, who spoke before Amarinder, said that the Congress would hold such dharnas for farmers across Punjab if the dues were not released.
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal outside his residence in Chandigarh. HT Photo
The Punjab government had released the first installment of Rs 90 crore to sugar mills on Wednesday evening, the day Amarinder announced a gherao of the chief minister's residence. The government said that it would pay the second installment to sugar mills by September 1.