Two days after Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa’s visit to Jagraon and Mullanpur mandis in Ludhiana, Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh visited the Khanna mandi on Monday.
In what can be termed as a predictable move on the part of the Congress leaders, the duo did not miss a chance to console the distressed farmers. Acting as a knight in shining armour, both the leaders made strong statements against the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government in the state.
Govt failed to end farmers'woes
While Bajwa asked chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to double the farmers’ compensation, Amarinder went a step ahead, saying the CM should hand over the state’s reins to the Congress as he has failed to address the farmers’ concerns on wheat procurement. “Badal and his ministers should stage a dharna outside the Prime Minister’s office to press for the farmers’ demands and not show their helplessness for not being able to get time from the PM,” added Amarinder.
No relief for Punjab farmers
Amarinder also took a jibe at Badal for having failed to convince the Union government for giving relief and relaxation to farmers in Punjab for the damaged wheat crop comparing it with the Haryana government that had managed to get a massive relief and 100% relaxation for the damaged crops.
Desperate famers seek help
Meanwhile, the farmers camping in mandis with their produce are desperately seeking help from all quarters. Listing their woes, the farmers in the Khanna mandi pleaded before Amarinder to take up the tardy lifting of wheat with the Union and state governments.
A group of farmers at the Khanna mandi recalled the Congress regime between 2002 and 2007 when Amarinder was the Punjab chief minister. “We don’t know about the other issues, but remember that Amarinder ensured timely procurement and lifting of crops.
Things have not been favourable for the farmers in the SAD-BJP rule,” said Santokh Singh, a farmer.
Replying to a question on reports of the Badal government trying to play down farmers’ suicides in Punjab, he said: “This was so characteristic of Badal to deny everything and he was doing the same in this case as well.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Sunil Jakhar, senior leader Lal Singh and MLAs Sadhu Singh and Gurkirat Kotli also accompanied Amarinder.
Divide in Cong camps
The Bajwa-Amarinder conflict has cost the Congress dear in Punjab as a clear-cut divide has emerged among party workers and legislators. Leaving apart a few leaders who are neutral, a majority of workers are divided between Bajwa and Amarinder camps.
So much so that even the grandsons of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, Ravneet Singh Bittu, MP from Ludhiana, and
Gurkirat Singh Kotli, MLA from Khanna, have chosen to support different leaders. While Bittu is in the Bajwa camp, as evident from his unequivocal support to the Congress chief during his visits to Ludhiana, Kotli has decided to stick to the Amarinder camp.