Politics over minimum support price (MSP) and compensation to farmers for crop damage marked the political rallies organised by various parties at Damdama Sahib Gurdwara on the occasion of Baisakhi here on Tuesday.
Addressing the people who thronged the mela, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders also flagged the issue of drugs.
While chief minister Parkash Singh Badal demanded that the Centre set up a high-powered committee to fix the MSP for crops afresh, the Congress and AAP demanded higher compensation for crop damage.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal “blamed” poppy-growing states for drug addiction in Punjab. The Congress and AAP used the opportunity to bash revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia for his alleged links with drug lords.
AAP’s maiden rally on Baisakhi, though lacking organisation, pulled large crowds with most of its prominent leaders present on the stage. The Congress, which is facing severe factionalism in the state, had Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, along with eight MLAs and an MP, in attendance. Former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, along with his supporting MLAs, chose to stay away from the rally.
Highlighting the cause of farmers, Badal said, “Farmers cannot be saved by giving nominal MSPs to them as recommended by the armchair agro-experts while sitting in their cozy offices in New Delhi, but it must be fixed as per the Swaminathan formula if the country’s food security is to be preserved, which is also part of the NDA manifesto.”
Bajwa demanded Rs 200 per quintal bonus on wheat for farmers to compensate the damage. He also exhorted farmers to attend the March 20 rally to be organised by the party in Delhi. “The SAD has been sacrificing the interests of farmers to save the chair of union minister Harsimrat Badal,” he said.
Talking about the drug issue, Bajwa said, “Everyone knows who is Bhola and what is his relation with the brother-in-law of the deputy chief minister. The youth in Punjab is a victim of the Badals’ greed to make money at any cost.”
AAP demanded Rs 20,000 per acre compensation to the farmers for the damaged crops. Party’s state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur wondered why the chief minister could not give the compensation to the farmers. Talking about the drug issue, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said, “You have to end the rule of Majithia to end drugs in the state.”