Extending his government’s full support to the agitating farmers in these “dark and difficult times”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday assured of all possible legal and other steps to fight what he called the “draconian” new farm laws.
Chairing a meeting with representatives of 31 farmers’ unions to elicit their views on the matter, the Chief Minister said he would discuss the issue with legal experts to finalise the government’s next steps, including challenging the farm laws in the Supreme Court.
Besides farmer representatives, AICC General Secretary and Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Rawat attended the meeting, along with Cabinet Ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, legislator Rana Gurjit Singh, state Congress President Sunil Jakhar, and Advocate General Atul Nanda.
“We will take all possible steps to counter the Union government’s assault on the state’s federal and constitutional rights, and fight for the interests of the farmers,” Amarinder Singh assured the farmers’ representatives.
If the legal experts advised amendment(s) to the state laws to fight the central laws, a special session of the Vidhan Sabha would be immediately called for the purpose, he said.
The Chief Minister made it clear that his government had no qualms about convening an Assembly session if that was the best course in the circumstances.
However, he trashed SAD President Sukhbir Badal’s demand for a special Vidhan Sabha session as “cheap gimmickry” after their “active” support to the central laws for months.
He demanded to know where were the Akalis in the last session and why Sukhbir did not support other opposition parties at the all-party meeting on the matter.
Amarinder Singh slammed the Akalis for “pawning” farmers’ interests to the large corporates to promote their petty political interests, pointing out that SAD MLAs had chosen to stay away from the Vidhan Sabha session during which the resolution against the farm laws was passed.
It was clear, he said, that the Akalis, led by Sukhbir Badal, had been wholeheartedly supporting the farm ordinances throughout, and only backed out once their position in Punjab became untenable due to widespread angst among the farmers.
The battle would be fought on all fronts, the Chief Minister said, adding that besides the Congress signature campaign announced on Monday by AICC General Secretary Harish Rawat, all panchayats in Punjab would be requested to pass resolutions against the agricultural laws, and the same sent to the Union government.
Earlier, several farmer leaders urged the Chief Minister to challenge the central laws in court, and take whatever other steps were needed to protect the farmers, including blocking construction of the Adani Group’s silos in the state.