Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who has been a vocal critic of the centre's farm laws, today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "bring in new laws after consultation with farmers" and resolve the months-long standoff. Undeterred by winter chill, thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, have been protesting against the legislations on the outskirts of Delhi since late November.
"The farmers have made their stand very clear - that the laws should be repealed. It is the job of the government of India to listen to them. The centre can bring in new laws after due consultation with the farmers, " Captain Amarinder Singh appealed to the Prime Minister, pointing out that the "constitution has been amended many times and can be done again". In the last few weeks, PM Modi has several times spoken in favour of farm laws, saying these legislations have brought the much-needed reforms in the farm sector.
The 78-year-old Congress leader's remarks come ahead of the eighth round of talks between the protesters' representatives and the government on Friday. The seventh round of discussions had failed to the resolve the standoff. The demonstrators have sought nothing less than the repeal of the laws.
The government, however, last week accepted withdrawal of two other contentions - withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill and the penal provisions for stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Ordinance.
In his statement, Captain Amarinder Singh said "there's nothing wrong with the demands of the protesters". "It's time that the matter is resolved and the farmers, who are sitting out in the cold and rains, can go back and everyone else can get on with their lives," the Punjab Chief Minister said.
He also dismissed "highly irresponsible" reports and allegations that the state has already implemented the laws.
Punjab was the first state to have opposed the central farm laws, and pass the amendments bills to negate their dangerous impact on agriculture, Amarinder Singh said, slamming the rival Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for "spreading misinformation on the issue with their fake propaganda machinery".
This morning, Chief Justice SA Bobde, while hearing a petition challenging the laws, said the Supreme Court's "intention was to encourage talks" between the government and the protesting farmers. "There's no improvement in (the) situation at all. We understand the situation and we encourage talks," the Chief Justice said. The top court will hear the matter again on Monday.
Protesters have threatened to intensify their agitation with "Kisaan Parade", a tractor rally in Delhi and other parts of the country on Republic Day if the talks with centre fail.