Farm laws: At Jantar Mantar protest, Punjab CM flays those calling his state anti-national
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday came down heavily on those calling his state “anti-national” and asserted that tens and thousands of Punjabi soldiers are deployed in borders along China and Pakistan to preserve the peace of the country.
“Please don’t think Punjab is out to disturb the peace of the country. It is not. We are there to preserve the peace of the country. We have given blood many times in the past and we will never shy away from doing so in future,’ Singh said.
He made the remark while addressing a gathering at a protest launched by lawmakers from Punjab against the Centre’s recently-enacted farm laws at Jantar Mantar in the national capital.
The protests was organised after President Ram Nath Kovind reportedly refused to meet a delegation from the state, led by CM Singh, on three farm bills passed by the state assembly in October.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Singh along with some Congress Members of Parliament (MPs) and legislators from Punjab paid tributes to Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in the national capital.
“Never think that Punjab will do anything anti-national. We have Pakistan as our neighbour, which is continuously trying to provoke us by sending up to three drones daily to drop arms and ammunition. These weapons are likely to go into the hands of criminals and anti-nationals. We have shared our inputs and apprehensions with the Central government. We don’t want trouble in Punjab because it is a border state. If law and order situation worsens in Punjab, then it will impact the country’s security,” Singh added.
Former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also joined the protest, indicating a thaw in his ties with the CM at the intervention of the Congress leadership.
Lok Insaaf Party legislator Simranjit Singh Bains, Punjabi Ekta Party lawmaker Sukhpal Khaira and Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) legislator Parminder Singh Dhindsa were also present on the occasion.
The Congress, many other opposition parties and several farmers’ organisations have been protesting against the recent farm legislations, alleging that these will harm the interests of farmers and benefit corporate entities. The claim has been denied by the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
The Centre has asserted that these new laws would be beneficial for farmers and would also increase their income.
The three farm bills -- the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 -- were passed by Parliament in September.
In October, the Punjab assembly adopted a resolution, rejecting the Centre’s new farm laws and passed three bills to counter the contentious legislation enacted by Parliament.
Singh urged President Kovind to give his assent to the farm bills submitted to Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore on October 20.
The CM invoked former Union minister Arun Jaitley and said the late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had asked the BJP-ruled states in 2016 to make their own laws on Concurrent List of Business in line with the provisions in the Constitution to override the land acquisition law passed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013.
“The bills are with the Raj Bhavan. I don’t know why the Governor is holding back these bills. He has no role to play. A Governor is only a post box and it is his duty to forward any such bill to the President. He doesn’t have to give any comments,” the CM said.
“I wanted to meet President Kovind because he is the head of our country and it is my duty to brief him on both law and order and food security situation in my state. It is for him to take a call. We hope that he will give his assent to the bills,” he added.