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Punjab CM corners Akalis, AAP for ‘double standards’ on farm Bills

Chandigarh :  Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday flayed the opposition SAD and AAP over their “brazen double standards” on the three state Bills related to agriculture, which they criticised publicly hours after supporting in the Vidhan Sabha.

The Chief Minister said that he was amazed that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders spoke in favour of the Bills in the Assembly, and even went along with him to meet the Governor, but “said different things outside”.

Amarinder Singh said also said that other opposition parties, especially AAP that is in power in Delhi, should also bring Bills similar to those of Punjab to negate the central farm laws. “Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should also follow Punjab’s example,” he said.

Talking to media after the House was adjourned sine die, he pointed out that the farmers had not said anything against the Bills, which were designed to safeguard their interests and those of the state’s agriculture sector.

“It is more than clear that these parties are not interested in securing the future of the farmers or protecting the state’s agriculture and economy, the Chief Minister said while slamming the SAD and AAP for “playing to the gallery” by pretending to back the Bills in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Their lack of sincerity towards the farmers’ cause had been totally exposed by their statements thereafter, he said.

“If they think we are fooling the people of Punjab, why do they not say so in the House? Why do they support and vote for our Bills?” asked Amarinder Singh, reacting to SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia and AAP leadership’s statements.

Both had accused the Chief Minister of “misleading the people”, citing his remarks on the possibility of the Governor or President not signing the Bills.

“If I had to fool the people why did I honestly share with them my apprehensions? Why did I openly talk about the possible scenarios instead of feeding them with a whole bunch of lies, as the Akalis and AAP are used to doing?” Amarinder Singh asked.

The Congress leader claimed that both the Opposition parties had shown their “true colours” by trying to undermine the state government’s pro-farmer initiatives which they ostensibly backed in the House, while referring to media and social media comments of Akalis and AAP leaders.

“There are plenty of legal options,” the Chief Minister said in reply to a question, but expressed the optimism that Governor VP Singh Badnore will fulfill his constitutional responsibility by listening to Punjab’s people.

“The voice of Punjab has reached the Governor and he will send the Bills to the President of India,” said Amarinder Singh, adding that the latter could not ignore the sentiments and appeal of the state’s people.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Chief Minister waved in the Assembly the copies of newspapers carrying Majithia’s statement and quipped that “these people say one thing in Assembly and another outside”.

Responding to a question, the Chief Minister said he was happy that Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the House on Tuesday and spoke well.

On Tuesday, Majithia had said that it was unfortunate that the Congress government did not share the Bills with all the stakeholders, including farmers and legislators, before the House was convened.

He said it was also unfortunate that the Chief Minister has thrown the ball in the Centre’s court by passing the Bills concerning trade and commerce, which were in the concurrent list and hence required Presidential assent.

“It would have been better had the government passed a Bill under the agriculture head by moving to make the entire state a single principle market yard to negate the implementation of the new central farm laws in Punjab.

“Any such Bill would have received both the Governor’s as well as the Presidential nod as a State subject. A huge opportunity has been missed,” Majithia said.

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