Navjot Singh Sidhu refrains from commenting on Amarinder Singh’s ‘lift dharna’ remark to protesting farmers

Navjot Singh Sidhu said Badals were the architects behind the Centre’s “black” farm laws.

Day after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked the farmers to lift their dharnas from Punjab for the sake of the state’s economy and the Opposition hit out at him, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu Wednesday refused to either support Singh or oppose what he said.

He said, “no comments” while addressing his first-ever press conference after taking over as the PPCC chief. He, however, said Badals were the architects behind the Centre’s “black” farm laws.

Sidhu said the three farm laws were photocopies of Punjab’s Contract Farming Act, 2013, passed by the previous BJP government in the state.

“I say this with conviction that the blueprint of the Centre’s three farm laws was prepared by the Badals. I will expose them so that everybody knows who is the real culprit,” he said while addressing the media.

“They (Badals) implemented these (farm laws) in Punjab first. It was former CM Parkash Singh Badal who introduced the Contract Farming Act, 2013, in the Vidhan Sabha,” Sidhu said.

Presenting a copy of the Act to the media, Sidhu said many salient features of the two are similar.

“In the Contract Farming Act, there is no provision that says farmers’ produce cannot be purchased below MSP. A list of 108 crops was attached saying that these crops could be procured below the MSP. The list also included wheat and paddy,” he said.

In both the laws, the farmers have no right to go to the courts as the complaints have to be disposed of by bureaucrats. If any default, then it would be entered on the ‘fard’ of the farmers. It made Punjab the first such state imposing a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 5 lakh if a farmer defaults on the contract.

“These laws are photo copies of the Centre’s farm laws. There cannot be a bigger fraud than this,” said Sidhu.

“Both the Centre and the state’s laws have no MSP guarantee. Dispute settlement is to be done by the bureaucracy and there is a bar on taking the disputes to the courts,” he said.

He said that in both the laws, in case of a dispute. farmers cannot sell their land or cannot take a loan on that either by mortgaging it.

“As per the provision of both the state and Centre’s laws, Sale of agricultural produce is directly from the farmers field so that the crop does not go to the mandis. They wanted to finish the mandis,” Sidhu said.

Showing a video of Badal on a projector, he said “Why were they singing paeans of the laws? Why were they saying these laws are good for the farmers if they were not behind these laws?” Sidhu questioned.

He said the Centre’s laws are still softer as there is no provision of imprisonment while in the Punjab’s Act, there was a provision of both imprisonment and fine. The Centre’s laws only have a clause for a fine.

 

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