Political twist to remarks on farm agitation unfortunate: Punjab CM

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said it was unfortunate that the farmers agitating against the “black” farm laws had “given a political twist” to his remarks, “instead of understanding the pain and misery caused to the people on account of their protests”.

Reacting to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s criticism of the remarks he had made on Monday in this regard, he lamented that despite his government’s unequivocal support to their cause, the farmers had misinterpreted his appeal and had, instead, tried to link it with the upcoming Assembly polls in the state.

His government, as well as the people of Punjab, had always stood with the farmers on the issue of the farm laws, and it was sad that they were now suffering due to the continued protests of the farming community across the state, he said in a statement.

The Chief Minister asserted that there was no question of trying to split the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, “all of whom were equal victims of the apathy of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the neighbouring state”.

“My government, in contrast, has not only firmly supported the farmers’ fight against the farm laws but had even brought in amendment Bills in the Vidhan Sabha to mitigate their adverse impact,” he pointed out, adding those Bills had, unfortunately, not been forwarded by the Governor to the President for assent.

Pointing out that the farmers’ fight was against the BJP, “which was solely responsible for thrusting the anti-farmer legislations on Punjab and other states”, Amarinder Singh said inconveniencing the people of Punjab was not justified in the circumstances.

He rejected the morcha’s claims that there was no paralysis of the government in Punjab due to the farmers’ protests, pointing out that it “is the people of Punjab who are suffering due to the disruption of services as a result of the protests”.

Continued protests in Punjab will push industry out of the state, which would have a severe impact on the economy, which his government was “still trying to revive from the crisis into which the previous SAD-BJP government had pushed it”, he said.

Already, the situation was becoming serious on the grain storage and procurement front due to the agitation, with lifting of the stocks by the FCI and state agencies getting obstructed, he said.

With wheat stocks having already completed four years of storage, the unused capacity was getting ruined, while also resulting in financial burden on the public exchequer due to payment of guaranteed charges to the silo owners as per agreements, said Amarinder Singh, saying the stocks lying in the FCI Adani silio at Moga alone was worth Rs 480 crore.

All the movement of wheat stocks from the FCI Adani silo in Moga and the FCI silo in Kotkapura is halted due to the ongoing farmers protest, whereas 160,855 metric tonnes of wheat stocks of previous crop years stored in the Adani silo in Moga by the FCI needs to be liquidated on priority, as deterioration of these stocks may lead to losses to the public exchequer.

He also noted that construction of silos awarded by the FCI in the state was getting delayed as farmer unions were not allowing JCBs and trucks to enter the construction sites.

“If things continue in this manner, we will lose out on investment, revenue and employment opportunities,” the Chief Minister warned, adding this would lead to serious paralysis of the government in Punjab.

The farmers could not possibly want to lead Punjab and its people back into the depths of despair from which his government had barely managed to pull them out over the past four and a half years, said Amarinder Singh, once again urging the farmers to discontinue their protests in Punjab, which was not even remotely responsible for their plight.