Even as he condemned the alleged attack on a journalist at the farmers’ protest site in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday demanded immediate resignation of Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi for dubbing the farmers as ‘hooligans’.
Slamming the BJP leader for using derogatory language against the farmers, who have been peacefully agitating against the three Central farm laws for the past nearly eight months, the Chief Minister said that it reflected the party’s anti-farmer mindset.
“Given the ruling party’s brazen attempts to stifle all voices of dissent and protest, the fact that it had failed to break the spirit of the farmers is clearly rankling,” said Amarinder Singh, lambasting the NDA government for for what he called its continued efforts to suppress every single voice that dares to speak against it, as could be seen in the latest instance of income tax raids on the Dainik Bhaskar media group.
While the assault on the journalist covering the farmers’ protest at Jantar Mantar was deplorable and action should be taken against the guilty person, the Union Minister’s reaction was totally uncalled for and provocative, said the Chief Minister.
Lekhi, he said, had no right to defame the farmers in such manner. The Delhi Police should file a case and investigate the matter to identify the accused, and the law should take its own course, he said, adding that the BJP had no right to condemn the farmers in such an outrageous manner over the incident.
Pointing to the disparaging comments made by various BJP leaders against the farmers since their agitation started at the Delhi borders last year, he said the ruling party has been trying to malign the farmers and undermine their peaceful protests from the outset.
He said the BJP leaders had even tried to defame the farmers earlier with slanderous descriptions like ‘terrorists’ and ‘urban Naxals’.
Having failed to deter the farmers, who have been braving harsh weather conditions with many losing their lives, the BJP leadership is once again resorting to such shameful tactics out of sheer frustration, said the Chief Minister.
From the enactment of the draconian laws to their apathetic attitude towards the farmers, without whom India would still have been begging to feed its people, the BJP-led Central government has proved, time and again, that it is not interested in hearing the voice of the ‘annadaatas’, said the Chief Minister.
Amarinder Singh also said that the simmering anger among the farmers, who are losing their lives and livelihoods due to the Centre’s draconian actions, is a matter of serious concern and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately take steps to resolve the crisis, which could have serious repercussions for the country.
Intelligence reports suggest that pro-Khalistani elements from across the border are looking to exploit the resentment of the farmers against India, he pointed out, warning of a grave security failure if these reports are not heeded by the Centre.
Instead of indulging in such shameful acts in their desperate bid to make the farmers toe their line, the government of India should try to settle the issue at the earliest, he stressed.