Chandigarh, February 21: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday rejected as `misinterpretation’ the media statement quoting him on extension of the proposed suspension of the Farm Laws, saying it was mischievously taken out of context to give the wrong impression on his stance.
The message sought to be communicated from his interview was totally incorrect, as was evident from the rest of his statement on the issue, said the Chief Minister, allaying the apprehensions of some Kisan leaders that he was trying to interfere in their agitation.
Even as he categorically ruled out any interference, or even direct mediation unless sought by both sides, Captain Amarinder said he had categorically stated in the said interview that “From what I understand is that some of the farmers are agreeable to the laws being put on hold for 18 months but may go up to 24 months.” He was also on record as stating in the same interview that an extended period for putting the laws on hold continued to be in active discussions (between the government and Kisan Unions), he added.
The Chief Minister said his statement was clearly in reference to the feedback/inputs received on the issue from certain Farmer Unions, which was taken out of context and presented as his personal suggestion for a compromise. Instead of being put in the context of his full statement, this particular point (on 24 months’ suspension of the Farm Laws) was played up as a separate communication, he said, terming it as factually incorrect.
While he maintained that an early resolution was critical to the safety of Punjab, which had witnessed a surge in smuggling of weapons into the state from across the border in the past 5-6 months, the Chief Minister asserted that he, and his government, continues to stand with the farmers on the issue. He pointed out that even in his speech submitted to Niti Aayog for circulation at Saturday’s meeting had categorically underscored the need for “urgent resolution” of the current agitation “to the satisfaction of the protesting farmers by addressing all their grievances.”
It is the farmers who have to decide what is in their interest and to what extent they are willing to compromise, if at all, on their demand for repeal of the Farm Laws, said the Chief Minister. He reiterated his stand that the Central Government should not stand on prestige on the issue and should be willing to revoke the legislations to find an effective, long-term solution to the problem.
Captain Amarinder expressed surprise at Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar’s claim that no one spoke about the farm laws in the sixth governing council meeting held yesterday. Though he could not personally attend the virtual conference owing to ill-health, his speech, which was submitted to the Niti Aayog on Thursday, had clearly highlighted the issue.
Not only had he reiterated his government’s stand that Agriculture is a State subject and law-making on it should be left to the States in the true spirit of “cooperative federalism”, he had further underscored, in black and white, the need to resolve the farmers’ issues on urgent basis, Captain Amarinder noted, categorically and unequivocally rejecting the claim of the Niti Aayog VC as false and baseless.
The Chief Minister asserted that his, and his government’s, stand on the Farm Laws had been consistent all through, at every forum, and the state amendment Bills, passed in the Vidhan Sabha, were an endorsement of the same. It was unfortunate that the Governor was sitting over these Bills instead of forwarding them to the President for assent, he said.