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Chandigarh, (Gurpreet) Even as he termed the Centre’s proposal on direct payment to the farmers, bypassing the Arhtiyas, as another provocation that will further aggravate the current crisis over the Farm Laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said the apathetic attitude of the Government of India would not help resolve the situation.

The matter had to be resolved by the Centre and the farmers, with the Punjab government having no role to play as the farmers’ associations had categorically rejected any political interference, said the Chief Minister, speaking to mediapersons on the state budget, which he described as pro-farmer and pro-poor.

The growth-oriented budget unveiled today in the Vidhan Sabha by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal was designed to ensure the welfare of all sections of the society, Captain Amarinder said. It was a people’s budget and yet another step in the fulfillment of his government’s promises to the people of Punjab, he added, citing the hike in Shagun and Pension amounts and the allocation for the state’s infrastructure development, including the link roads.

Instead of amicably resolving the farmers’ issue, the central government was fuelling further angst among them, said the Chief Minister, adding that by seeking land record for making e-payment to the farmers directly from the FCI, the situation would worsen. Punjab had a time-tested system in place in 1967, with farmers getting paid through the Arhtiyas with whom they had excellent relations and on whom they could depend for financial support in times of adversity, he said. “How can farmers rely on corporate houses like the Ambanis and the Adanis in times of crisis,” he asked.

The Chief Minister stressed that the Centre should have taken the farmers into confidence before bringing the controversial Ordinances. “Had the Centre been sincere about finding a viable solution to this problem, it would have either consulted the Punjab government or our farmers, as our state alone contributes over 40% of foodgrains to the national pool,” he remarked.

Captain Amarinder made it clear that Punjab, which was initially not even a part of the deliberations on the agricultural reforms, was included in the high-powered committee only after he wrote to the Centre. Manpreet Badal and Secretary Agriculture KS Pannu attended the two meetings held thereafter but there was no mention there about the ordinances or the new laws, he added.

The Chief Minister, in response to a question, said the Governor should immediately decide and forward the state’s amendment Bills against the Farm Laws to the President. “If the President accepts it’s good and if he refuses, it will open the doors for us for legal recourse,” he added.

To another query regarding the imposition of lockdown due to recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Chief Minister said, "I cannot say right now, but I hope we are able to control it." At the same time he asked the people to strictly follow safety norms as a precautionary measure. Asked to comment about post-vaccination effects, the Chief Minister said he was absolutely fine.

In response to a question on the exclusion of PCA Stadium, Mohali, from IPL venues for forthcoming session, the Chief Minister said he had already tweeted to express his resentment. If Mumbai Stadium could be a venue with more than 10000 cases a day why should Mohali be ignored, he asked, adding that the state government had already assured of all arrangements to ensure strict compliance with Covid protocols at Mohali.

Asked to comment whether the next state assembly elections for 2022 would be led under his leadership, the Chief Minister said the decision was the sole prerogative of AICC President Sonia Gandhi. On the statement of Manpreet Singh Badal that he won’t be the next Finance Minister if Congress comes to power in the 2022 assembly elections, the Chief Minister, in a lighter vein, said that “this is to be decided by the party not him.”

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