Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Friday termed the Centre’s decision to repeal three farm laws as much delayed, but a welcome step.
“Had Prime Minister Narendra Modi taken this decision much earlier, several precious lives would have been saved,” he said in a statement, accusing the Centre of thrusting the legislations “arbitrarily” on the farmers without taking them into confidence.
Asking the Centre to make its stand crystal clear on the minimum support price and public procurement of farmers’ crops, Channi said the Central government should admit on record to have made a Himalayan blunder in bringing these bills for which it hardly bothered to even relent for the past one-and-a-half years.
The CM also demanded adequate compensation for the farmers for the humungous losses of life and property suffered by them. “A financial package should be announced to help the farmers and labourers reeling under the huge burden of debt,” he added. He said that the state government should also be compensated for financial loss and damage to property during the farmers’ protest.
Hitting out at the rivals, Channi said that the SAD and the BJP had been singing paeans for the central government for these laws but with what face they would go to people now. “There was a nexus between Akalis, BJP and even Captain Amarinder Singh who made all out efforts to weaken the farm movement but in the end it’s victory of good over evil,” he said, targeting his predecessor.
Channi, who was sworn in as the chief minister two months ago, said his government had outrightly rejected the three farm laws, besides repealing the contentious Contract Farming Act 2013 enacted by the then Parkash Singh Badal led SAD-BJP alliance government in the recently concluded special session of the state assembly.
Channi said the Centre announced the repeal of these laws when it was left with no other option. “They have just made the announcement but we will wait till these laws are repealed in Parliament. They (Centre) cannot be trusted till then,” he said at a press conference convened at a short notice before demanding statutory guarantee for the minimum support price.
The CM said the central government needed to guarantee MSP by law to regain this trust and this should be done along with the repeal of the three laws. There was a conspiracy to weaken Punjab by wearing down its agriculture sector but the Centre has had to back off due to the strength of democracy, he alleged, congratulating the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha.
Channi also exhorted the farmer unions to join the fight against the Centre’s notification that extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) from 15km to 50km inside the international borer. “It is a big battle. We all have to fight together to reduce this (BSF’s operational remit) to 5km,” he said, urging the protesting farmers and labourers to get ready for this.
Channi also hit out at the AAP for notifying one of the three laws in Delhi ruled by the party, telling them to also withdraw it. “A memorial will be set up in the memory of farmers who lost their lives during the protest,” he said.