In a letter to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar has sought that a special session of the Punjab assembly be convened to discuss the "farm crisis".
Flanked by party MLAs, Jakhar told mediapersons on Friday, "State farmers are committing suicide, but the crop diversification agenda of the government has not taken off. The Punjab and Haryana high court had to intervene and issue notices to the state government on its procurement policy for maize and sunflower. PM Narendra Modi during his Punjab visit did not give any relief to farmers. Now union finance minister Arun Jaitley, too, during his recent Amritsar visit spoke of everything under the sun but farmers."
He said the farmers were facing the brunt of Badals on political as well as natural fronts. "Flood threat is looming large but Punjab has still not paid the compensation for the crop damage in February though the neighbouring Haryana has done it. Badal has washed his hands of the compensation. Even sugarcane farmers are running around for payment of their crop forcing the court to fix a deadline," he claimed.
In his letter, Jakhar has reminded the CM that the latter had called a special session in 2013 to discuss imposition of wealth tax on farmlands. "The CM had to finally cancel the session as it had been called following misinterpretation of the law. But today Punjab is facing a real farm crisis. If the Centre is responsible for it, the opposition Congress is willing to go to the Centre to highlight it. We want a discussion on many other issues -- from Punjab's economy, flight of industry to condition of traders and labour. The next session is slated to be held in September which is two months away. The situation of farmers demands an urgent and serious debate," he added.
'No factionalism, all on Capt's side'
Answering media queries later, Jakhar denied that the parallel tours by Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh could be termed factionalism. "The entire leadership of Jalandhar district was at the Captain's rally, so was that of Gurdaspur barring MLA Charanjit Bajwa (Bajwa's wife). He said both the tours were aimed at confronting the Akali-BJP government and the party was united in this. On speculations on the new Punjab Congress chief, he said it was the prerogative of the high command.