Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday categorically refused to review the power subsidy being given to farmers in the state.
Badal was reacting to union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s reported suggestion that Punjab’s financial woes would be over if it ended power subsidy to the farming sector. Jaitley reportedly had written a letter to the Punjab government recently on the issue.
Badal, who was in the city to inaugurate a civil hospital, said, “We are not going to review the move, come what may. Power subsidy to farmers will go on as it is. Providing subsidies to compensate the farming community for ensuring food security is a global phenomenon and Punjab is not the only state helping the farmers. There are many other states where farmers are being facilitated by providing them subsidies.”
When told that Jaitley, in his letter, had mentioned that in case Punjab ended the power subsidy, the state government would not face any fiscal deficit, Badal said, “It’s very easy to say so. The ground reality for Punjab farmers is different. With agriculture becoming a less profitable business owing to various factors, it is the duty of the state government to share the burden of the farmers who are providing us food security.” He said he would soon meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the special financial package for Punjab.
When asked to comment on Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MP Dushyant Chautala’s statement that the Punjab CM would be the star campaigner for their party in the Haryana polls, Badal said the SAD had always stood by their allies, the INLD being one of them. “I will definitely campaign for the INLD in the coming assembly polls,” Badal said.