Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday asked Akalis to stop "lying and misleading" the people of the state by "picking selective portions" of the Congress manifestos, saying it did not even remotely propose any of the anti-farmer moves that the BJP-led Central Government was trying to push on poor farmers to promote the interests of "their rich corporate friends".
Instead of flashing the copies of manifestos at journalists, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) should have made efforts to read their relevant parts first, said the Chief Minister, taking on the Opposition parties over their alleged "unsubstantiated and blatantly false allegations" against the Congress on the issue.
Referring to the Congress manifestos for the Lok Sabha as well as the last Punjab assembly elections, the Chief Minister said nowhere had the party spoken about bringing any of the changes that the Centre was trying to impose on the nation with its ill-intentioned legislations.
In fact, the manifestos had clearly talked about strengthening the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) system to make it even more beneficial to the farmers, he said in an official statement.
The state Congress manifesto of 2017 had stated that the updation of the APMC Act would be done to ensure direct access of farmers to the national and international markets through digital technology without tinkering with the existing MSP system, he said.
The LS manifesto, on the other hand, had gone a step forward to talk of further strengthening the marketing system by repealing the existing Act and bringing in new provisions that would provide for the establishment of thousands of Kisan markets to provide easy access to farmers within 2-3 km range, he said.
"Only liars could interpret this to mean that the Congress had meant to abolish the APMC Act," said the chief minister.
"When and where did the Congress ever talk of replacing APMC with contract farming and private procurement?" the Chief Minister asked, lashing out at the Akalis and AAP for "blatantly misleading" the people on the issue.
The Punjab Congress manifesto had categorically promised that the, "State Government will ensure lifting of food grains within 48 hours and payment by procurement agencies within 3 days for the procured food grains," making it amply clear that there was not even a remote possibility of changing the procurement system, as the Centre's new laws are seeking to do, he said.
"Picking up sentences and misrepresenting the communication is an art that the BJP has mastered, and the Akalis are now emulating," said Mr Singh.