Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh (File photo)
CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he deplored the Republic Day violence in Delhi, especially at the Red Fort, and termed it an insult to the nation as it brought shame to the country and weakened farmers’ agitation. At the same time, he said that he continues to stand with the farmers as the farm laws were “wrong and against India’s federal ethos.”
Stressing that the Red Fort is a symbol of independent India and thousands of Indians had given up their lives for independence and to see the national flag flying atop the fort, Amarinder said Mahatma Gandhi had fought the entire war of independence through non-violence. “My head hangs in shame at what happened on Tuesday in the national capital,” he said.
“Whoever has done it (indulged in violence at Red Fort) has brought shame to the country and Delhi Police should investigate and take action,” he said, adding that the Centre should also probe into the involvement, if any, of any political party or nation, while making sure that no farm leaders are unnecessarily targeted or harassed by the police.
Even as he demanded action against the perpetrators, who he said were not farmers but misguided youth indulging in symbolism, Amarinder said that such problems will continue to take place if the government fails to listen to the voice of the people.
A government for the people and by the people cannot ignore the will of the people, he said, adding that the performance of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre will not be acceptable in the next elections to the majority in a country where 70% of the population is farmers. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should realise that stability and secularism, encompassing all minorities, is the key to inclusive growth of the nation and playing the Hindutva card will not lead to progress, he remarked.
“The farm laws are wrong, which is why we passed our own laws,” Amarinder said, pointing out that agriculture is a state subject, yet “we were not asked before introducing the Ordinances.”
Rejecting allegations of his government being in the know on the issue, he said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was spreading false propaganda and the fact was that Punjab was not even initially included in the expert committee as the Centre knew the state will oppose their laws. Punjab had nothing to do with the policy decision taken by the central government, he said, pointing out that even when the state was eventually included in the committee after he personally wrote to GoI, there was no discussion or consultation on the farm ordinances. In fact, the draft report received later from the Niti Aayog, to which his government gave point-by-point response, also made no mention of the Ordinances, he added.
Lamenting that the governor had not yet forwarded the state amendment Bills to the President for assent, he said the laws were passed in the state assembly under Article 254 (II) of the Constitution, as the BJP had done in the case of the Land Acquisition Act. “If it could be done for the BJP, why can’t they do it for us,” he asked, alleging a "biased attitude" towards the Congress government in Punjab. “Why have state governments at all, if their powers are to be systematically reduced,” asked Amarinder, pointing out that the Anandpur Sahib resolution, passed 50 years ago, had demanded strengthening of the federal structure but it is instead being weakened further.