Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday challenged the Akalis, led by Sukhbir Singh Badal, to gherao Parliament to pressurize the central government into waiving off farmers’ debts instead of indulging in theatrics outside the state assembly on the issue.
Flaying Sukhbir’s call for a gherao of the Vidhan Sabha tomorrow, the first day of the Budget session, Captain Amarinder Singh ridiculed him for shedding crocodile tears for the farmers after failing to do anything for them during 10 years of SAD-BJP rule.
Not only had the Akalis failed to extend even an iota of support to Punjab’s distressed farming community under their regime, they had also not done anything to persuade the BJP-led central government in the past four years to come out with a debt waiver scheme for the beleaguered farmers of the country, said the Chief Minister.
Sukhbir’s stand on the issue was preposterous considering the fact that despite his wife, Harsimrat, being a member of the Union Cabinet, and in spite of the fact that the BJP was an ally of his party, the SAD president had made no effort whatsoever to secure central help for the debt-ridden farmers of Punjab, said Captain Amarinder Singh.
If Sukhbir were really concerned about the plight of the farmers he would have taken up the issue with the Centre and managed to secure some relief for the aggrieved community in the past four years, instead of engaging in chest-beating antics after the Congress came to power in Punjab, the Chief Minister added.
Promising adequate provision for farm loan waiver in the 2018-19 budget, to be unveiled on March 24, the Chief Minister said his government’s commitment on the issue was sacrosanct, as was evident from the steps taking in this regard so far. The Chief Minister pointed out that around 82000 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, covered under the debt waiver scheme, by November 2018.
Despite the severe financial constraints, which was also a legacy inherited from SAD-BJP, the debt waiver scheme announced by his government was well on the track of implementation, said Captain Amarinder Singh. This, he said, was in sharp contrast with the erstwhile SAD-BJP government’s policy with respect to the farming community.
The Akalis were simply indulging in rhetoric on the issue in what was clearly a desperate measure on Sukhbir’s part to recover some lost ground for which party, which had been suffering ignominious defeats in the various elections held in Punjab over the past one year, beginning with the crucial Assembly polls, said Captain Amarinder Singh.
The Chief Minister 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, 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, said Captain Amarinder Singh.