Chandigarh, August 22
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab senior leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema has demanded to dedicate at least two days to agriculture during the forthcoming Assembly session so as to get a fair go and secure marketing of all alternative crops including sugarcane with a visible ‘Road Map’ (policy) can be prepared. The AAP leader also slammed the ruling Congress for the slight increase in the state level price (SAP) of sugarcane and the outstanding amount of Rs 160 crore due to sugar mills.
Cheema said there is no difference between the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Captain Amarinder Singh-led state government on the issue of the farmers. “Both the governments are anti-farmer and pro-corporate. Due to which the farmers have been compelled to launch agitation against the Centre and the Punjab government,” he added. In a statement issued from the party headquarters here on Sunday, Harpal Singh Cheema said the Aam Aadmi Party as the opposition had been demanding a special session on agriculture for a long time but the ruling Congress was running away from a positive discussion on the issue. However, being an agriculture-oriented state, a far-sighted agricultural policy is a matter of urgency for Punjab, he said.
Harpal Singh Cheema alleged that the SAD-BJP and the Congress governments which had been ruling the state till now had never taken the agriculture sector seriously, due to which today the entire agriculture sector of the state had directly gone under the control of the Union government. “As a result, farmers and laborers along with all sections of agriculture, on one hand, have to go to Delhi and take a firm stand against Modi, while on the other hand, have to block the Jalandhar Highway against the Captain-led Congress government,” he added.
He said just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was bent on sacrificing the ‘annadatas’ of Punjab and the country for his few favorite corporate houses, so was the Congress and Captain Amarinder Singh destroying the sugarcane farmers of Punjab. Cheema further said that after 2017-18, the government has now made a mockery of sugarcane growers by increasing the state level price of sugarcane by just Rs 15 per quintal for 2021-22. “The farmers staged dharnas from time to time and handed over memorandums to the Congressmen for the old arrears of crores of rupees owed to the cooperatives and private mills of the state; but under the pressure of private sugar mill mafia, the Captain government did not listen to any of the farmers,” he said.
On the contrary, the Congress MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, the head of Sugar Mill Mafia and owner of Rana Sugars, was included in the Sugarcane Development Board and was made to sit in the pricing meetings, asserted Cheema. He said the Aam Aadmi Party fully supports, both theoretically and practically, the dharnas of the annadatas on the Delhi borders and the blockade of the Jalandhar Highway; who are saddened and disappointed by such neglect and atrocities by the Congress government.
The AAP leader said that no doubt such protests cause great inconvenience to the general public and passers-by, but the government is responsible for this, which is not listening to the pleas of the ‘annadatas’. Cheema also demanded from the state government to declare a remunerative price of Rs 400 per quintal as per the demand of the sugarcane cultivators and immediate payment of the outstanding amount of Rs 160 crore; out of which Rs 106 crore is on the private mills of prominent Congress and Akali leaders.
Harpal Singh Cheema also demanded the resignation of Cooperative Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, stating that if he was exploiting the farmers by making the sugar mill mafia like Rana Gurjit Singh a part of the sugarcane pricing committee; then he has no right to remain the minister. He said the Congress, Captain Amarinder Singh, Sukhi Randhawa and the Badals, would be held accountable during the assembly session; because the owner of Phagwara Sugar Mill is a favorite of the Badals and a senior Akali leader.