Punjab Government

Withdraw move to tinker with MSP: Punjab all-party meeting

June 25, 2020 10:38 AM

CHANDIGARH: Extending full support to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the issue of the 'anti-farmer ordinances' passed by the Centre, all major political parties of Punjab, barring the BJP, on Wednesday resolved to appeal to the Centre to immediately withdraw them in public interest, and not to tinker with the MSP regime.
While the BJP completely opposed the resolution, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), while initially expressing their reservations on the same, eventually decided to partially endorse it, choosing to go with the other parties in resolving "that existing assured purchase under MSP regime and the state APMCs should not be tinkered with in any manner."

The SAD also decided to support the decision of all parties to take a delegation to meet the Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister on the issue.

The resolution read: "A delegation of representatives of all political parties led by the state Chief Minister would meet the Prime Minister and the Union Agriculture Minister to convey their strong reservations on these anti-farmer legislations and urge them to immediately withdraw these in public interest."

It further stated that "agriculture" and "markets" are "state subjects" under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution and the present ordinances are against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.

Accordingly, the Union government is urged to immediately review and withdraw these Ordnances. However, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said the party would like a legal opinion before terming the ordinances as against the spirit of cooperative federalism.

The resolution was passed after a marathon nearly five-hour long video conference meeting convened by the Chief Minister, who made it clear that he would stand with the farmers and people of Punjab, as he had done on the issue of water sharing, when he had gone against his own party to abrogate all water sharing agreements of the state.

The Centre has no right to interfere in the matter of agriculture, said Amarinder Singh, urging all parties to stand with his government on this issue in the interest of the state and its people, particularly the farmers.

Pointing out that the Centre had come out with these ordinances without waiting for the report of the committee formed under the Maharashtra Chief Minister to assess all aspects of the issue, the Chief Minister urged SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal "to go by your heart and not let politics rule your decisiona.

Amarinder Singh's appeal to Sukhbir Badal came after the latter initially opposed the resolution, arguing that there was nothing wrong in the ordinances.

Describing the ordinances as pro-farmer and aimed at encouraging competition, Sukhbir initially rejected the suggestion that the move was a precursor to ending the MSP system, pointing out that it was not written anywhere.

The Chief Minister, however, was quick to point out that written or not, the aim was clear, and the Ordinances had to be seen in the context of the developments of the past 6 years.

Dubbing the ordinances as 'dangerous', the Chief Minister pointed out that the Shanta Kumar committee report had recommended gradual withdrawal of the MSP and dismantling of the FCI.

The Ordinances, which are also on the lines of the committee report, are steps in the same direction, he warned, adding that this would lead to an unprecedented crisis for Punjab, which is dependent on Agriculture.

He cited the example of maize, which continues to be sold at Rs 600 a quintal despite MSP being in place.

Further, going by past experience, there was no guarantee that they would not end up being a precursor to the elimination of the MSP regime, said the Chief Minister.

"We were guaranteed GST payments and are still waiting to receive them," he observed, adding that "we have been watching this game for long, with promises made one day and changed the next."

Punjab has to take decisions in its own interests, Amarinder Singh stressed, questioning the rationale behind the Centre usurping agriculture, which is a state subject with the prerogative for taking decisions on it lying with the states.

He further questioned how development would take place in rural areas if money does not come to Mandi Boards.

Earlier, the issue was discussed extensively by senior leaders of various political parties, with the meeting commencing after a two-minute silence, observed in memory of the 20 bravehearts who had been martyred in the Galwan Valley clash with the Chinese.

PPCC President Sunil Jakhar said the ordinances, in terms of both content and intent, were violative of the spirit of cooperative federalism.

He also questioned the timing of the ordinances, which had been brought in when the country was in the middle of the Covid battle and a face-off with China, with economy in a state of shambles.

BJP state president Ashwani Sharma termed the ordinances as pro-farmer, and denied any move to kill the MSP regime, claiming that the MSP was permanent.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann said not only farmers, but the 'arhtiyas' and small traders would also be impacted by these legislations.

Agreeing with the Congress that the legislations were totally against federalism principle, he said after health and education, the Centre was now trying to take over another state subject, namely agriculture.

He questioned the urgency of bringing in the ordinances, and said the legislations should have been discussed properly in Parliament.


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