Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh extended his government’s full support to the agitating farmers on Tuesday and assured them of all possible legal and other steps to fight the “draconian new farm laws”, including a special session of the Assembly to discuss and decide the way forward. Singh said the Punjab government stands in full support of the farmers in these “dark and difficult times”.
Chairing a meeting with the representatives of 31 farmers’ unions here to take their views on the matter, the chief minister said he would be discussing the issue with his legal team later in the day to finalise the next steps, including challenging the farm laws in the Supreme Court. Besides the farmer representatives, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat attended the meeting, along with state ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and the state’s Advocate General, Atul Nanda, an official statement said.
“We will take all possible steps to counter the Union government’s assault on the state’s federal and constitutional rights and fight for the interests of the farmers,” the chief minister told the farmer representatives. If legal experts advise amendment to state laws to fight the central laws, a special session of the Assembly will be immediately convened to do so, he said.
Singh made it clear that his government has no qualms about convening an Assembly session if that is the best course in the current circumstances. Asserting that the Centre had no right to enact these laws as it amounted to “violation” of the Constitution and an attack on the federal structure, the chief minister said his government shares the concerns of the farmers and will do “whatever it takes to scuttle the Union government’s attempt to ruin the farming community with these draconian legislation”. The battle will be fought on all fronts, he said, adding that besides the Congress’s signature campaign announced by Rawat on Monday, all panchayats in the state would be requested to pass resolutions against the farm laws and the same would be sent to the Union government.
Declaring that his government and the Punjab Congress are with the farmers in this “difficult time”, Singh said he would take the suggestions of the “Kisan” unions to legal experts to finalise the next course of action. “If the new laws are implemented, it will spell the end of agriculture,” he said, warning that “in the times ahead, the Government of India will follow up these legislations with the elimination of MSP and FCI, bringing an end to the time-tested farming procurement and marketing system as we know it”.
“The mandis that have existed and worked well for more than 60 years will be wiped out and with MSP also ending, wheat will be sold the same way as maize currently is — at much lower prices than dictated by the MSP,” the chief minister added. Farmers in Punjab have been protesting against the new laws meant to deregulate the sale of their crops, with their unions saying that these legislations will actually lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system. The Congress, along with other opposition parties and farmers’ organisations, held demonstrations against the new farm laws across the country on Monday.