The Punjab cabinet on Thursday asserted that nothing short of a repeal of the Centre’s three new farm laws would break the deadlock between the Union government and protesting farmers in the matter. It also said that the Congress-led Punjab government would take all measures to protect the interests of the state and farmers.
The central government is out of touch with the ground realities, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said at a meeting of the state cabinet. The members of the cabinet said repeal of the farm laws was the only way out of the current imbroglio, according to a government statement. The council of ministers also demanded that the Centre make minimum support price (MSP) a statutory right of farmers, who had been “getting extremely low prices for their produce" for the past several days despite being responsible for feeding the nation.
“My Cabinet demands that the Central govt repeal the Black Farm Laws & that MSP be made a statutory right. We are proud of our farmers who by their peaceful protests have won hearts all over the world & we are firmly with them in the fight for survival," said the Chief Minister in a tweet.
My Cabinet demands that the Central govt repeal the Black Farm Laws & that MSP be made a statutory right. We are proud of our farmers who by their peaceful protests have won hearts all over the world & we are firmly with them in the fight for survival. pic.twitter.com/iOhN3hQT4q— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) January 14, 2021
The state cabinet also observed a two-minute silence in the memory of farmers who have died during the agitation against the farm laws. An estimated 78 farmers have so far lost their lives. Stressing the need for an early resolution to the agitation to prevent further loss of life, the cabinet said the matter has already been debated and discussed in eight rounds of negotiations held between the protesting farmers and the Union government.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar was also present in the meeting. The cabinet noted that the Centre should not stand on prestige and ego in the matter, which, if unresolved, could lead to devastating repercussions for the country for decades to come. If the Centre can make sweeping amendments to the laws, then this adamancy about not revoking the legislations is inexplicable, it said.
The council of ministers also mentioned the Supreme Court’s acknowledgement of the concerns of the protesting farmers. The apex court had on Monday rapped the Centre over the prolonged impasse with the protesting farmers demanding the repeal of the three new farm laws, saying it was extremely disappointed with the negotiation process. In a formal resolution, the Punjab cabinet reiterated its commitment to the resolutions passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on August 28 and October 20 last year, stressing that all the genuine demands of the farmers must be accepted. It urged the Centre to repeal the farm laws as agriculture is a state subject under the Constitution of India, and to make MSP a statutory right. The state cabinet also welcomed the Supreme Court order staying the central legislations as acknowledgement of the concerns of the farmers of Punjab who are protesting against the farm laws, and recognition of their pain and anguish.
There is need for broad-based dialogue and proper consultation with all stakeholders as these legislations impact the future of millions of farmers across the country, and all genuine demands of the farmers must be accepted, said the resolution. The cabinet also appreciated the peaceful protest by the farmers, which has also been taken note of by the Supreme Court, in keeping with the best of the democratic practices.
The cabinet meeting was convened by CM Singh with the sole agenda of discussing the issue in the light of the apex court orders.
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