"Badals Laid Foundation Of Centre's Farm Laws": Navjot Sidhu
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday attacked the Badals, accusing them of laying the foundation of the Centre's farm laws over which farmers are protesting for the past several months.The Congress leader alleged that one of the Centre's laws is a "photostat copy" of the Punjab Contract Farming Act, 2013 enacted during the previous SAD-BJP government led by Parkash Singh Badal.The Amritsar MLA also claimed that the Badals initially supported the central laws and then took a U-turn after facing heat from farmers.His remarks drew a sharp reaction from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which asked if Mr Sidhu ever objected to the state Act as a minister in the Congress government or later.The party in a statement said Mr Sidhu is trying to "befool" people by raking up old issues to cover up his party's failures.Mr Sidhu said, "It is with conviction and clarity that I say that the Badals laid the foundation of the Centre's three black laws.""Badals are the policy makers (neeti nirmata) for these three black laws," alleged Mr Sidhu while addressing his first press conference after assuming the charge of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC).Flanked by four state Congress working presidents and general secretary Pargat Singh, Mr Sidhu said former CM Parkash Singh Badal had tabled a bill on contract farming in the state Assembly in 2013 and later it was enacted as the Punjab Contract Farming Act.The Punjab law is the "soul" while the Centre's three laws are the "body", he said.The Centre's three black laws were "authored" by the Badals, Mr Sidhu said in tweet later.Mr Sidhu at the press conference claimed that the Punjab law never talked about the minimum support price and it allowed corporates to buy crop below it in order to exploit farmers.Mr Sidhu also compared provisions of the Punjab law with the Centre's Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, saying it is a "photostat copy" of the state law.He said there was no MSP guarantee in both laws, which mention dispute settlement by bureaucracy, bar on jurisdiction of the civil court, amount recovered as land revenue, period of agreement and registration authority.These laws were framed only to benefit the corporates, Mr Sidhu alleged.The cricketer-turned-politician slammed the Badals for first backing the Centre's three farm laws and then taking a U-turn after criticism from farmers.Some video clips of Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Harsimrat Kaur Badal showing them praising the Centre's three farm laws were also played during the press conference.He accused Harsimrat Badal of signing the draft of farm ordinances when she was a Union minister.Mr Sidhu took on the Akalis on the issue of the Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Act, 2016, claiming that not even a single penny of farmers was waived.He said Rs 78,000 crore was waived by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."One may say anything on the Punjab government's intent but it waived Rs 5,800 crore of farmers and Rs 520 crore of landless farmers," he said.Lashing out at the SAD, Sidhu alleged that the Akalis would go back to the BJP and get these laws implemented.Taking a dig at SAD's programme of taking out a protest march to Parliament on September 17, Mr Sidhu said Opposition party president Sukhbir Badal is going to Delhi when Parliament is not in session.Mr Sidhu refused to comment on a question about the burning of effigies of the Punjab Chief Minister in Haryana over his remarks on the farmers' stir."Cannot comment on it," he said.Asked about the party's campaigning in the backdrop of his meeting with farmer leaders a few days aho, Sidhu said he will not talk about in the media.However, when more journalists pressed him for reply, he said the party leadership will decide on farmers' demands.