Making it clear that his government was totally opposed to the Centre’s Farm Laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged the Government of India not to stand on ego and prestige but to immediately scrap the legislations and bring in new laws after fresh discussions on the issue with the farmers.The Chief Minister also declared that “we will go to the Supreme Court if the President does not given assent to the State Amendment Bills”, which unfortunately the Governor is still sitting on instead of forwarding them for presidential approval, even though the Vidhan Sabha had unanimously passed the Bills, with all parties voting for them. It was tragic, however, that the Akalis and AAP had later started playing political games on the issue, he added.Addressing mediapersons on the completion of four years of his government, the Chief Minister declared that he could not see any middle path to break the stalemate between the farmers and the Government of India. The Centre should scrap the Farm Laws, sit with the farmers and make new legislations in their place, he said.“What’s the use of making it a prestige issue?,” he remarked, asking the Centre, “How many more farmers do you want to kill (with your adamant stand)?” There are poor farmers sitting out there, with women and elderly, he pointed out, adding that Punjab alone has lost 112 farmers’ lives since the agitation began. “The Constitution has been amended more than 100 times in the past, so why can it not be done again to scrap these laws?,” he asked.
The Chief Minister said he failed to understand why the central government was trying to break the age-old time-tested relationship between farmers and Arhtiyas. The new laws are not an improvement on the existing system but will destroy the farming sector, he said, asking where the poor farmers (comprising 75% of Punjab’s farmers) would go in case of need once the Arhtiyas are replaced by big faceless corporates. Delhi does not understand agriculture, he further remarked, in response to a question on the new FCI policy of direct payment to farmers, which he said he was not in favour of.In any case, said the Chief Minister, Agriculture was a state subject and the Centre had no right to legislate on the matter. He flayed the central government for trying to destroy the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution by encroaching on state powers.Lambasting those spreading misinformation about him being party to the decision on the Farm Laws as member of the Centre’s high-powered committee, he again made it clear that Punjab was not a member when the panel was initially announced and was included only later, by which time any policy decision had already been taken at the first meeting (in Punjab’s absence). The second meeting had financial agenda, and at the third, the Agriculture Secretary was present. “Where did I become part of the process?” he asked, reacting to Opposition’s baseless allegations against him on this count.On the Governor still sitting on the State Bills, the Chief Minister asked, “Are we a democracy or not?” Punjab took a unanimous decision and the Governor had no business to sit on the files, which it was his duty to forward to President for assent under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution. He recalled that in the matter of the Land Acquisition Act, the BJP-led Gujarat government had also similarly passed amendment Bills, which the then President had consented to.