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Congress says ‘go outside Parliament’ as SAD plans gherao of Punjab assembly

Amarinder lambasted Sukhbir for “eroding the sanctity of the democratic institution of the Vidhan Sabha” with his gherao call.

punjab Updated: Mar 19, 2018 20:25 IST
Press Trust of India, Chandigarh
Amarinder SIngh,Sukhbir Badal,farm loan waiver
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal (left); and Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh(HT Photos)

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Monday assailed SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal for his call to gherao the assembly on the first day of the budget session tomorrow over farm debt-waiver issue, and challenged him to protest outside Parliament.

SAD president Sukhbir has planned to protest outside the state assembly tomorrow (Tuesday) to pressure the government to bring in a complete loan-waiver scheme for farmers, farm labourers and the Dalits. Today he reviewed the arrangements for the party’s protests.

Chief minister Singh lambasted Sukhbir for “eroding the sanctity of the democratic institution of the Vidhan Sabha” with his gherao call.

“If he really has a strong case against the Congress government,” Singh said, “he should place it on record inside the House rather than resorting to such shameless tactics that can only lead to hassles for the citizens and a waste of their money.”

He alleged Sukhbir failed to do anything for farmers during 10 years of SAD-BJP rule in the state and that the opposition leader was now “shedding crocodile tears”.

“Sukhbir’s stand on the issue is preposterous,” he said, “given that his wife Harsimrat Kaur is a member of the Union Cabinet (minister of food processing). Also the BJP and the SAD are allies.”

“If Sukhbir were really concerned about farmers’ plight, he would have taken up the issue with the Centre and managed to secure some relief for the community in the past four years instead of engaging in chest-beating antics after the Congress came to power in Punjab.”

Sukhbir, meanwhile, said his party workers were determined to reach the Vidhan Sabha to make the Congress government hear the voices of the farmers, who were in a “state of despair and frustration” at the government’s “turnaround” on the loan-waiver promise.

He said the state government has “denied the farmers the promised complete loan-waiver”.

Sukhbir said the SAD has taken a resolve to take the agitation to its logical conclusion and force the government to implement a complete loan-waiver scheme for farmers, farm labourers and dalits.

The chief minister, however, said his government’s commitment on the issue was sacrosanct and promised adequate provision for farm loan-waiver in the 2018-19 budget, to be unveiled on March 24.

He pointed out that around 82,000 farmers had already been issued debt-waiver certificates by his government, with a clear roadmap for settling the loans of all the 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers by November this year.

Despite severe financial constraints which was also a legacy inherited from the SAD-BJP, Amarinder said, the debt-waiver scheme announced by his government was being implemented.

He alleged the Akalis were simply indulging in rhetoric on the issue.

First Published: Mar 19, 2018 20:03 IST