Chandigarh, Sep 14 (IANS) Categorically rejecting the Centre’s claim that Punjab was taken on board before promulgation of the farm ordinances presented in Parliament on Monday, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to go ahead with them.
He also announced that he will lead an 11-member delegation of his party on Wednesday to submit a memorandum to the Governor against the ordinances.
Besides the Chief Minister, the delegation will include state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar along with some ministers and MLAs of the party, an official spokesperson said.
The decision to meet the Governor came after the BJP-led Central government presented the three controversial ordinances in Parliament for legislation despite strong protests by farmers in various states, including Punjab.
The Chief Minister also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him not to disappoint the people and farmers of Punjab and favourably consider their request not to go ahead with the ordinances “which are not in the interest of the farmers”.
Meanwhile, asserting that his government had been consistently opposing the so-called reforms brought in by the ordinances, the Chief Minister said, in a statement, that at no point did Punjab endorse any such move, contrary to what was being projected by the Central government.
In fact, the ordinances were not discussed even once at the sole meeting of the high-powered committee held after Punjab was made a member, he added.
Reacting to the statement made in Parliament by Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Raosaheb Patil Danve, that the high-powered committee on agriculture had decided on the ordinances after due consideration by all member states, Amarinder Singh termed it as irresponsible since Punjab never supported any such move, nor was it consulted before the promulgation of the ordinances.
Pointing out that Punjab was initially excluded from the high-powered committee set up by the Central government in July 2019, the Chief Minister said it was only after the state protested that it was included in August 2019.
By that time, the committee had already held its first meeting.
At the second meeting, on August 16, 2019, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had represented Punjab, and only certain fiscal issues related to agriculture were discussed, and the ordinances or their provisions did not come up at all, he said.
Subsequently, a meeting of the Agriculture Secretaries of the member states was held on September 3, 2019, at which Punjab had taken a strong stand against any dilution of the APMC Act.
The draft report of the committee was circulated for comments and Punjab had again made its stand clear, strongly opposing any move to dilute the farmer-friendly laws.
However, said the Chief Minister, the Central government did not address Punjab’s comments and, in fact, there was no meeting or discussion at all thereafter.
Instead, in the midst of the pandemic, the Centre chose to promulgate the Ordinances in June 2020, he added.
Drawing the Prime Minister’s attention to his June 15 letter on the issue, Amarinder Singh pointed out in his letter on Monday that “the farmers of Punjab as well as most political parties have urged the Union Government to withdraw these Ordinances as they will cause irreparable damage to farming in the State”.
He further pointed out that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, in its Session held on August 28, had passed a resolution seeking a withdrawal these ordinances and to ensure the continuity of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime by making it a statutory right of the farmers.