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Punjab Cabinet authorises CM to take decision on farm laws

Ahead of a two-day special assembly session to counter the Centre's farm laws, Punjab Cabinet on Sunday authorised Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take any legislative or legal decision he may deem fit to protect farmers' interests.

PTI | Chandigarh | Updated: 18-10-2020 20:12 IST | Created: 18-10-2020 19:58 IST
Punjab Cabinet authorises CM to take decision on farm laws
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

Ahead of a two-day special assembly session to counter the Centre's farm laws, Punjab Cabinet on Sunday authorised Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take any legislative or legal decision he may deem fit to protect farmers' interests. The decision came after a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) in which party MLAs unanimously stressed the need to reject the farm laws outright and not to implement these in the state.

Amarinder Singh too called for a frontal attack against the l egislations. After the MLAs' meeting, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said the Centre may "dismiss" the Congress government it it wants but they will do everything possible to protect farmers. According to an official statement, the state Cabinet authorised the CM "to take any legislative/legal decision he may deem fit to protect interests of farmers".

The Cabinet decided that a strategy to counter the "black farm laws" will be finalised ahead of the special session beginning here on Monday. "This fight will go on. We will fight this till the Supreme Court," the chief minister earlier said at the Congress Legislative Party meeting.

Referring to the demand raised by many farmers' unions for an immediate session of the assembly, the chief minister said this could not be done earlier as all legal implications had to be examined thoroughly before taking any step. Amarinder Singh said views of the MLAs would be taken into account while finalising the strategy to battle the farm laws, in consultation with legal and independent experts, including Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram.

He said the whole world was watching Punjab with a lot of expectation and the views of the MLAs were extremely important for drafting a comprehensive strategy to protect the state's farmers and agriculture. The CM said contrary to what the BJP and its leaders had been claiming, Punjab was never consulted on farm legislations.

Taking a dig at the SAD, the chief minister said the Congress was not "double faced" and had a clear stand on the issue. He reiterated that Punjab was included in the panel formed to discuss agriculture reforms only after he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar told reporters that the MLAs were of the opinion that if the Centre feels Punjab's action of countering the new farm laws was not right, they can dismiss the Congress government. "If the Narendra Modi government dismisses our government, they are free to do so. The MLAs were of the opinion, to which the Chief Minister also agreed, that if the Centre has to take such a step they can, but we will do whatever we can to protect interests of farmers," he said.

We are clear that we have to save farmers; we have to protect the peace, harmony and brotherhood, Jakhar said. "If Centre thinks Punjab is coming in way of the benefits they want to extend to big corporates through these farm laws and if they want to dismiss our government, they can," Jakhar said.

The MLAs too were unanimous in their opinion that the Centre's legislations should be totally rejected and the state should make suitable amendments to provide for strict action, including imprisonment, for those who purchase wheat or paddy below the minimum support price (MSP). The MSP and the 'mandi' system had to be protected at all costs and the "unconstitutional laws, which were against federalism, had to be countered effectively, they said according to the statement.

While Punjab farmers have been demanding that the three farm laws passed by Parliament recently be repealed, the Centre has maintained that the new laws will raise their income, free them from the clutches of middlemen and usher in new technology in farming.



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