Chandigarh An all-party meet convened by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh passed a resolution on Tuesday to demand that the Centre immediately withdraw three contentious agri laws that have prompted widespread protests by farmers, and said the Centre was responsible for a “substantial delay” in resolving the deadlock.
The meeting, attended by most parties except the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed the resolution seeking the immediate withdrawal of the farm laws and for statutory minimum support price (MSP) for crops, even as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the principal opposition party in the state, staged a walkout. The AAP, however, voiced its support for the withdrawal of the three laws.
The Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal, Lok Insaaf Party, SAD (Democratic), Bahujan Samaj Party, CPI and CPI (M) participated in the meeting, while the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, boycotted it. The Punjab CM called the meeting to evolve a consensus on the way forward on the issue of the farm laws, according to a statement.
The meeting also decided to send a delegation to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of the farmers’ stir, days after violence broke out during a tractor parade held by the protesters in the national capital on Republic Day.
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The meeting termed the Republic Day violence “sponsored” and demanded a judicial probe into the “laxity and complicity” of those responsible for maintaining peace at the Red Fort, where the Nishan Sahib, the flag of the Sikhs, was hoisted on the ramparts.
The AAP’s leaders demanded a “concrete plan” for a “dharna” outside the PM’s residence in case the state delegation was not allotted time to meet the PM and called for the deployment of Punjab Police to protect the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders. The Punjab CM rejected the demand for Punjab Police security to the protesters, telling the AAP leaders that their chief minister in Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal) could request the Union home minister to provide security there. “We cannot do it as it is not possible constitutionally,” the CM said, leading to a walkout by AAP leaders present at the meet.
The Punjab CM said his government will bring Amendment Bills to negate the Centre’s three farm laws again in the Vidhan Sabha since the governor did not send the earlier bills to the President. “We will bring the Bills again as the Constitution provides that if Bills are passed twice by the Vidhan Sabha they have to be sent by the governor to the President,” he said.
Accusing miscreants of seeking to sabotage the “historic and unparallel” farmer agitation through untoward incidents at the Red Fort, the resolution said these acts “are truly condemnable” and need to be probed thoroughly, the statement said. These incidents, however, should not be made a pretext to victimise agitating farmers, farmworkers and others, including the media persons, it added.
In the resolution, the Punjab parties asked the Centre “to withdraw all cases registered against farmers, farmworkers, journalists and other peaceful agitators and release all those detained by the police or any other agency”. It called upon the central government “to make the Minimum Support Price a statutory right of the farmers”.
The resolution also lauded Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, and thanked Haryana farmers for their support to Punjab’s farmers in the agitation.
AAP MLA and leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said the party walked out of Tuesday’s meeting as its demands were not included in the resolution.
The meeting, which began with a two-minute silence in remembrance of those who died during the stir, also saw a host of suggestions from participants, ranging from the appointment of a state observer at Delhi borders, to joining the farmers at the protest site without making a political statement.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar termed the BJP’s decision to skip the meeting as “unfortunate”.
AAP MP Bhagwant Mann suggested that representatives of all Punjab parties should jointly meet the Prime Minister and the Union home minister to build pressure on them and the state government should set up an office in Delhi to coordinate and help the protesting farmers.
Simranjit Singh Bains of the Lok Insaaf Party stressed the need for consensus among all parties on the issue.
(With PTI inputs)