The Congress will file a class action suit seeking to fix responsibility for the loss the farmers have suffered due to the whitefly attack on the cotton crop in Punjab and seek adequate compensation for affected farmers. A class action is a type of lawsuit in which one or several persons sue a party on behalf of a larger group of persons, referred to as the class.
Stating this at a press conference here on Sunday, Congress legislative party leader in the Punjab assembly, Sunil Kumar Jakhar, said that the collective suit, on the pattern of the one filed in the Union Carbide disaster case in Bhopal, would be filed in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
“In the Bhopal disaster, people had died after the leakage of gas from a factory, but here farmers have been left to die slowly because after the crop loss, farmers have been pushed towards committing suicides,” he said.
He said, according to rough estimates, farmers have suffered a loss of about `1,200 crore mainly on inputs, excluding the profit that was to be earned through the sale of crop.
He said the private firms, which supplied spurious pesticides to farmers with the connivance of the state government, were responsible for the loss to farmers and the party would seek a direction to the companies and the government to bear the farmers’ loss.
“I am in discussion with legal experts to go through the technicalities for the suit and everybody, who is responsible for the situation, will be made a party, including the officials from the agriculture department and the minister concerned. Even chief minister Parkash Singh Badal might be made a party because all this has happened under his supervision. We are in the process of gathering the information required for filing the suit,” he said.
Blaming the SAD-BJP government for the situation, he said that the pro-farmer mask of the state government has been exposed. He said the removal of the director of agriculture has vindicated that the scam has been committed in the purchase of spurious pesticides, but it is also not possible for a director-level officer to order the purchase of pesticides worth `33 crore without the consent of the minister concerned.
On the internal tussle in the Punjab Congress and rumours of Amritsar MP and party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Amarinder Singh of floating his own party, Jakhar said that the SAD was well aware that if they have to face political challenge from somebody, he is Captain Amarinder Singh and the SAD was spreading such rumours.
Terming the statement of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Partap Singh Bajwa in which he had said that Captain Amarinder Singh was going to float a new party, Jakhar said that such statements are avoidable and differences of opinion should be discussed at the party forum only.
When asked whether the indecisiveness on the leadership of the Punjab Congress was resulting in the Aam Aadmi Party getting popular in the state, as reflected in the rallies being held in the state, Jakhar said that the party high command was aware of the situation. However, the people in Punjab are fed up with the present regime and they are only assessing the AAP by attending its rallies.