Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who held a sit-in today against the three controversial farm laws, attacked the central government as he asked: "Why is the MSP (minimum support price for the farmers' produce) not a part of the bills?"
Speaking to NDTV, he said the burning of a tractor in Delhi this morning near the iconic India Gate "shows the anger of the people". "The incident shows the anger of the people. In the last three years, Punjab has given Rs 5,000 crore to farmers. They don't know now who is going to buy the food from them. If a farmer's child is ill, how is he going to arrange the money if there are no commission agents," the Punjab Chief Minister said, dismissing claims by opponents that his protest was a 'political stunt'.
Punjab has become the epicentre of the protests against the three laws linked to agriculture sector amid widespread protests. Amarinder Singh is the first chief minster in the country who has participated in an agitation to express his discontent against the centre.
On being asked about the links of the Punjab Youth Congress to today's protest in Delhi, he said: "I don't know if that's the case". In a tweet, however, Brinder Dhillon, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, took responsibility of the India Gate protest.
We wanted to send a message that the protest should happen at Delhi as the issue is related to central govt and PM modi .The farmers have to occupy India Gate and Parliament to make their voice heard to arrogant Modi. Today's protest was symbolic and we take responsibility @ndtvpic.twitter.com/xhyapqmoTn— Brinder (@brinderdhillon) September 28, 2020
Earlier, while holding a sit-in at the ancestral village of freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Amarinder Singh had backed the protesters as he spoke to the reporters. "If it's my tractor and I want to burn it... what is the problem?" he said as the reporters laughed along.
While centre is saying the new laws will open new markets for the farmers, the Punjab Chief Minister today told NDTV: "Isn't that what's happening already?" He also suggested that the state may take the matter to a court. "The centre has taken away the state's GST... and agriculture is a state subject. Our legal team is at work. They (central government) are messing around the system. I can't bypass the law... I am not here to break the law. But we are trying to find a way. Why can't an act, passed by parliament, be challenged in court?" Amarinder Singh said.
Earlier in the day, during a rare public appearance amid the pandemic, he had made some strong comments about the farm bills: "ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency) is always looking for potential recruits. My government has been in power for three years; around 150 terrorists have been arrested and 700 weapons have been seized. Punjab had been quiet for some time... now they (central government) did this (passed the farm laws). If you snatch food from somebody, won't they be angry? They become a target for the ISI."
"What they (the central government) have done is anti-national," Captain Amarinder Singh said.
On Sunday, he had said his government will see if Punjab can amend state laws to protect farmers from any fallout of the three controversial laws.
Three bills - Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill - were signed by the President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday into laws.
While critics say farmers will lose bargaining powers with the entry of private players into the agricultural sector and they won't get a minimum support price for their produce, the government has said the new laws will help small and marginal farmers.