Punjab and Delhi CMs spar over farm bills

On December 1, 2020, Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for their implementation of the new farm laws in Delhi. Kejriwal retorted by saying that Singh was misleading Punjab farmers.

Amarinder Singh’s accusation:

The press statement of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is reproduced in full below:

“Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday hit out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over their shocking double standards on the farmers’ protests, saying the party had completely exposed itself by shamelessly implementing the draconian Farm Laws in the midst of the crisis while pretending to be standing with the farmers.

Even as AAP was claiming to be supporting the agitating farmers, the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi had brazenly executed the black laws through a gazette notification on November 23, 2020, the Chief Minister pointed out, adding that the party was clearly indulging in political games to further its electoral agenda.

Quite clearly, AAP had been working behind the farmers’ backs all these days, said the Chief Minister, expressing shock at the fact that even before the farmers had embarked on their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, the Kejriwal government had actually issued the notification which would spell the death-knell for the `annadattas’ in the national capital.

“Do they have no shame?” asked Captain Amarinder, slamming AAP for misleading the Kisan Unions by pretending to be supporting their cause while all this time, Kejriwal’s party was merely indulging in political theatrics.

“First they failed to pass any amendment laws in the Delhi Assembly to negate the central laws, as was done in Punjab. And now they have gone so far as to officially notify the agricultural legislations in Delhi, where AAP is in power. The party’s true intent and affiliation has been utterly exposed,” Captain Amarinder noted.

Responding to AAP’s criticism of his handling of the situation and for taking on Haryana CM ML Khattar, the Chief Minister remarked that while he was busy  fighting for the rights of his farmers, Kejriwal was preparing to pull the rug under the feet of the farmers, who had been braving all kinds of atrocities by the Haryana government in their quest for justice. “Not once did AAP criticise the brutality inflicted on farmers,” he pointed out, adding that, instead, Arvind Kejriwal’s party had failed to even condemn the Akalis for their role in the legislation of the agricultural ordinances.

Observing that the AAP government in Delhi did not even accept the farmers’ demand for a protest site at Ram Lila ground or Jantar Mantar, Captain Amarinder asked why they had been toeing the BJP line in this whole affair.

Captain Amarinder also lambasted AAP for befooling the farmers with its ill-conceived suggestion that the Punjab government should pass a Bill in the state Assembly to make MSP a statutory right for farmers in the state. “It is obvious that AAP either does not understand the problems of farmers or simply does not care,” he said, asking that “even if the state has the money to buy all the foodgrain, which it simply does not, where would it sell the same?” In any case, he pointed out that MSP and other issues raised by the farmers did not relate to Punjab alone but farmers of the whole country. “Can’t you see that farmers from all agricultural states are marching to Delhi to fight the Farm Laws? Or is that you simply cannot see beyond your own petty political interests,” he asked AAP leaders.”

Arvind Kejriwal’s retort:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal responded with a sharp rebuttal through a video. The video transcript (translated from Hindi) is given below:

“The entire country is watching our farmers sleeping on the road despite the cold weather. I cannot sleep thinking about this. Nobody in our country can sleep peacefully after watching this. The fight [over farm bills] is not just for our farmer brothers, but it is our fight as well. Just think for a moment, the rotis that we eat twice a day is because of the hard work done by our farmers. We all need to stand together with our farmer brothers in this fight.

Yesterday, Punjab’s Chief Minister had accused me that I have passed these ‘black’ laws in Delhi. How can the Captain [Amarinder Singh] indulge in such cheap politics during sensitive times like these? All the three farm laws are implemented by the Union government at the Centre. The day our President signed all the three laws, they came into effect immediately across the country. It is not in the hands of the state government to implement these laws or not. If it were in the hands of the state governments, why would farmers from across the country come to Delhi? They would have placed their demands with their respective state governments. These laws have been implemented by the Centre, and no state government can either stop them or pass them.

Now the question is, if the Captain knew about this, why did he falsely accuse me? There is a big reason behind this. Ever since we decided not to allow the conversion of nine stadiums into jails, the BJP-led government at the Centre is terribly angry with me. It was planned by the Union government to put the farmers who marched to Delhi in the nine stadiums. We did not give permission to convert the stadiums to jails. So, they are angry with me. Only I know the pressure imposed on me to convert the stadiums to jails. I received phone calls from several people. But some moments in life happen to you when you listen to your conscience, not worrying about the results. Captain, are these the same people who are trying to pressurise you, to throw false allegations at me, curse me, and talk like the BJP? Are you being friendly with the BJP, or is there any pressure? Because the ED [Enforcement Directorate] has initiated several cases against you. Many notices have also been sent by the ED.

Captain had a lot of opportunities to stop the farm bills. People of Punjab are asking, why did the Captain not stop the farm bills then? One and half years earlier, in 2019, the Union government had established a committee to create the three black laws. Do you know who was in the committee? Captain was present in that committee. Captain, the people of Punjab are asking why you did not stop these three black laws during that period. Why did you not oppose the black laws even once in the committee? Why did you not tell the people that the Union government was planning to create such black laws? Captain, there were several occasions when you could have stopped these bills. Today, the farmers of Punjab are asking why you did not stop these bills.

Today, the farmers of Punjab are in the border of Delhi. And the sons of these Punjabi farmers are stationed at our country’s border. Only a few days earlier, a Punjabi farmer named Sardar Tulwant Singh was sitting at Delhi’s border. And we received the news that his 22-year-old son Sukhbir Singh laid down his life in our country’s border. Under such circumstances, when some people label the farmers as terrorists or anti-nationals, I wonder what those Jawans at the border must be thinking. Their farmer parents are being called as terrorists. Today, we all need to decide if we are with the country’s farmers or with those who label them as terrorists.

I appeal to each of my countrymen to support our patriotic farmers. I appeal to all Aam Aadmi Party workers to not indulge in politicising the issue, and to work together with other parties to serve the farmers. We have our entire lives to indulge in politics. Right now, serve like a serviceman. We should not politicise this revolution, and not let anybody else to politicise it as well.

I appeal to the Union government to accept all the demands of the farmers and include the MSP [minimum support price] clause in the laws. Jai Hind!”