Chandigarh, Oct 18 (IANS) The Punjab government on Sunday decided to extend by a day a one-day special Assembly session called to legislate a state law to negate the ‘anti-farmer’ farm laws enacted by the central government, officials said .
A decision to extend the session to two days will be formally taken at the Business Advisory Committee of the Assembly ahead of the session’s start on Monday.
“Had a detailed meeting with Congress MLAs to discuss the Centre’s farm laws and to hear their views for the special Vidhan Sabha session which starts tomorrow,” the Chief Minister tweeted.
Amid a consensus among Congress legislators on the need to reject the farm laws outright and not implement them in the state, Amarinder Singh called for a frontal attack against the legislations, even as he was authorised by his Council of Ministers to take any legislative or legal decision he may deem fit to protect the interests of the state’s farmers.
The Cabinet decided that a strategy to counter the farm laws will be finalised ahead of the special session.
“This fight will go on, we will fight this till the Supreme Court,” the Chief Minister earlier said at a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP).
Referring to the demand raised by many farmer unions some days back for an immediate session of the Assembly, the Chief Minister said this could not be done earlier as all legal implications had to be examined thoroughly before taking any step.
The Chief Minister said the views of the MLAs would be taken into account while finalising the strategy to battle the farm laws, in consultation with legal and independent experts, including senior lawyers and AICC leader P Chidambaram.
He said that the whole world was watching Punjab with a lot of expectations and the views of the MLAs were extremely important for drafting a comprehensive strategy to protect the state’s farmers and agriculture sector.
Making it clear that the fight for the Congress was not about politics but to “save Punjab’s agriculture and its farmers”, Amarinder Singh said that decisions will be taken only in the interest of the farming community.
Taking a dig at the Akalis, the Chief Minister said the Congress was not two-faced and had a clear stand on the issue of the farm laws.
His own stand was also clear, he said, adding that contrary to what the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leaders had been claiming, Punjab was not consulted at any point in time on the new legislations.
Recalling that it was only after he wrote to the Prime Minister that Punjab was included in the committee formed by the Union government to discuss the agricultural reforms, the Chief Minister said that the first meeting of the panel had already been held by that time.
“The issue was not discussed at the second meeting of the committee, attended by Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, while at the third meeting, attended by officials, a one-line diktat was issued, with no mention anywhere of the ordinances,” he added.
Earlier, the Punjab Congress MLAs were unanimous that the Centre’s “anti-farmer legislations should be totally rejected” and the state make suitable amendments to law to provide for strict action, including imprisonment, for those who purchase wheat or paddy at less than the Minimum Support Price.
Several legislators stressed the need for aggressively countering what they called the “false propaganda” spread by the opposition parties against the Congress government and the party on the issue of the farm laws.
The MSP and mandi system had to be protected at all costs, and the unconstitutional laws, which were against federalism, had to be countered effectively, they said.
The message needs to go out clearly and unequivocally that the central farm laws are not acceptable to Punjab, they added.