The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) has appealed to farmers not to commit suicide and promised to resolve all agriculture-related issues on priority after assuming power in Punjab.
“On coming to power, the AAP will not allow banks or the government to acquire, confiscate or auction agricultural land,” said senior journalist Kanwar Sandhu, who heads the party manifesto committee, in Mansa on Sunday. He along with party’s kisan wing president Gurveer Singh Kang and leader Chander Suta Dogra held a four-hour interactive session with farmers as part of the ‘Punjab dialogue’ here.
Sandhu motivated people to form small groups to counsel and prevent farmers from committing suicide.
During the interactive session, farmers raised issues related to crop diversification, food processing and sale of spurious pesticides and fertilisers besides unemployment, fee hike in private schools and excessive expenditure in electioneering.
Responding to a query on how the party planned to check migration due to families selling off their ancestral land, Sandhu said AAP will focus on generating employment by setting up agro-based industries.
Earlier, while opening the dialogue, AAP leader Chander Suta Dogra highlighted the achievements of the AAP government in Delhi. “The Delhi government has sent notices to several private schools over fee hike. If voted to power, our party will take similar steps in Punjab,” said Dogra.
Farmers’ union skips meet
Criticising the AAP programme in Mansa, Ruldu Singh of Punjab Kisan Union said the party was just the “B-team of the Congress”. “Why has Kejriwal not spoken anything against big corporate houses? Why has the party remained quiet over the recent tragic suicide by a mother-son duo in Barnala? AAP is only befooling people by playing politics over the issue of farmer suicide,” said Ruldoo Singh, who has been sitting on protest for the past one month, demanding waiver of farm loans.
District president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan group) Ram Singh Bhaini Bagha said although they had been invited to the dialogue, they chose to skip it. “We don’t want to endorse any political party. If they (AAP) are genuinely concerned about the issue (farm crisis), they can meet us in person,” he said. AAP leader Kanwar Sandhu said the party will try to have a meeting with the farmers’ union.