Expressing concern over the continued suspension of goods trains by the Railways even after easing of the blockade by the farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday wrote an open letter to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president J.P. Nadda, calling for collective will and statesmanship to resolve the festering imbroglio that could have dangerous consequences not just for Punjab but the entire nation, including the armed forces in Ladakh and Kashmir.Responding with pain and anguish to several recent statements and comments of various BJP national and Punjab leaders on the farmer’s protests, particularly the continued suspension of goods trains by the Railways, the Chief Minister stressed that this was neither the time nor the occasion to indulge in political confrontation or allegations/counter allegations. “What is needed at this critical moment is for all of us to put aside any temptations we may be harbouring to promote our political interests,” he said, adding that it is, on the contrary, “time for all of us to rise above political considerations and to respond as statesmen, to a situation that threatens to spiral irrevocable out of control, if immediate steps are not taken to stem the tide.”Citing the repercussions the continued suspension of goods trains services would have for national security, in addition to the critical shortages faced not just by Punjab but also J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, the Chief Minister warned that the armed forces were likely to be badly affected with the onset of winter, as they could run out of supplies and other requisites once the snowfall blocks the roads to Ladakh and the Valley. “These are dangers that neither the central government nor any political party, including the BJP, can choose to ignore,” he said, adding that “the onus lies on all of us….We need to all liaise together, with the common goal of solving the contentious issue, in the interest of the country.”
Referring to the losses caused in Punjab due to the prolonged blockade, Captain Amarinder said every day of the continued suspension of goods trains meant critical losses to the industry, agriculture and overall economy, in view of critical shortages of Power (Coal), Urea and DAP stocks. As for the consequences for national security, he noted that if the armed forces are deprived of critical supplies, amid the increasingly aggressive overtures from both China and Pakistan, the situation could become extremely dangerous for the country. Even Punjab could become more vulnerable to security threats from Pakistan, if the current crisis around the farmers is not resolved at the earliest, he warned, noting that ISI-backed terror groups were perpetually looking at exploiting any unrest in Punjab.The Chief Minister termed as distressing recent remarks of various BJP leaders/members to the prevailing crisis situation, taking specific note of the statements of BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh and Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma. He said these leaders’ “frivolous and baseless allegation of a collusion of my government with what they call `naxal forces’ shows a shocking lack of maturity and absence of understanding of the current situation.” He said the reference to farmers as `naxals’ was reprehensible, given the contribution of farmers to the nation’s food security. “The entire country has always looked up to our farmers as the ‘Annadatta’, and by comparing their agitation with `naxalism’, these BJP leaders have demeaned the nation’s `Annadattas’ and humiliated every Indian whose lives they sustain,” the Chief Minister added.Captain Amarinder also took serious exception to the BJP leaders’ use of certain observations of the Punjab High Court to question his government’s moral right to govern the state. The court had merely sought a report and called for steps to be taken by the state government to resolve the farmers’ blockade, he pointed out, adding that ascribing political motives to the judiciary was “nothing short of contempt of court”.
Noting that even the High Court had called it the "collective responsibility” of the Central Government to “hold extensive discussions” with the farmers to ensure an outcome “that is consistent with the need of the hour”, the Chief Minister said the root of problem lay in the fact that instead of joining hands with the State government to find a resolution to the imbroglio around the movement of goods trains in Punjab, the BJP, which leads the government at the Centre, was trying to use it to promote its political interest in Punjab.The Chief Minister expressed surprise over the reason of “uncertainty and safety of train operations’ cited by the Railways to not allow goods trains’ movement through Punjab despite the easing of blockade by farmers. He described the Railways’ decision as an apparent case of trust deficit of the Central Government viz-a-viz farmers of Punjab and other states, “who have, in fact, never done anything to hurt the nation” but had, on the contrary, had been nothing less than the saviours of our country since the green revolution started in 1966 and got us out of the clutches of our PL 480 agreement with the US, continuing through this Covid pandemic.Urging the central government to take the lead to resolve the blockade issue, “which could prove to be the first step to finding ways to address the concerns of the farmers and find a permanent solution to the conflict caused by the contentious Farm Laws,” Captain Amarinder said Nadda could play a pivotal role in this regard as leader of the ruling party at the Centre.“Let us put our heads together to find a solution that will not destroy the lifeline of our economy, but will benefit every section of the stakeholder fabric that is getting adversely impacted by the current situation,” he wrote in his open letter to the BJP chief.