Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday wrote to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, seeking action on farmers’ demands including cancellation of “unfair” FIRs registered against growers during their agitation. Asserting that the Congress stood by farmers’ agitation against the farm laws at every stage, Sidhu, however, asked the state government, “we must do more” and “not let the three black laws be implemented in Punjab at any cost.” Sidhu wrote to the chief minister two days after meeting representatives of 32 farm bodies which had raised their demands with him.
In a meeting with representatives of all political parties except the BJP, the farmer leaders had told them not to carry out electioneering till the Punjab polls are announced. In a letter to the CM, Sidhu wrote, “This is to bring to your attention and request for necessary action, upon the demands raised by 32 farmer unions at the meeting called by them.”
Sidhu said farmer leaders demanded “the cancellation of unjust and unfair” FIRs registered against the farmer unions due to cases of violence during the agitation in the state.”
Noting that the Congress and the state government provided support to farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws, Sidhu said, “Yet, some FIRs have been registered due to untoward incidences,” adding that the government could set up a mechanism to consider each case on compassionate grounds and cancel all “unfair” cases.
Referring to farmers’ fear of demand for land records by the Centre before the crop procurement, Sidhu asked the state government to fight against the Centre’s “injustice”. “I personally believe it is unfair,” said Sidhu, adding that partition of land had not happened in many parts of the state for decades.
“This is also an attack on the resilient system of procurement by MSP through Arthiyas and to push the farmers away from APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committees) mandis towards private markets where no such records are being demanded. Thus, I strongly feel that the Central Govt is actually creating ‘One Nation, Two Markets’ with different rules for APMC and private markets. This injustice we must fight against !,” wrote Sidhu.
Sidhu also pointed out a hike in budget allocation for agriculture, Rs 7,181 crore of power subsidy, Rs 5,810 crore of farm debt waiver and Rs 520 crore of loan waiver for farm labour and landless farmers.
“Noting the efficiency of Govt procurement done by the Congress Govt. Congress workers and leaders have stood by the farmer agitation at every stage of the protest. “Yet, we must do more, standing firmer on our resolution passed in Vidhan Sabha in October 2020, We should not let the three blacks be implemented in our state at any cost !,” he stated.
Sidhu stressed on procurement of pulses and oilseeds through state corporations to increase farmers’ income.
“We must take steps ahead from the farmer agitation’s fight against the three black laws to do more and present the vision for Punjab agriculture, to increase Punjab’s farmers’ income using every resource and power we have as a state to stand with the farmers,” he wrote.
He said, “We must begin procurement of ‘dals’ and oilseeds through state corporations.” “Further, invest in diversification with giving MSP on more crops, giving storage capacity in hands of farmers and strengthening farmer’s financial capabilities through cooperatives and forward linkages to trade without dependence on corporates,” he wrote.
With inputs from News18