Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday alleged that the SAD took refuge in the coronavirus pandemic to stay away from the one-day assembly session as they did not want to be party to the resolution rejecting "anti-farmer ordinances" of the Centre.
Having supported the farm Ordinances as part of the NDA-ruled Centre, the Akalis could not afford to vote for the resolution and yet did not want to appear to be anti-farmer, alleged the CM in a statement here.
In the circumstances, they found an "easy way out" in the guise of the coronavirus pandemic to stay away from Vidhan Sabha completely, he said. The assembly on Friday had passed a resolution rejecting the farm ordinances promulgated by the Centre.
These ordinances are the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
"The Speaker and I had separately appealed to those MLAs who had come in contact with any infected legislators not to attend the session but not a single Akali member turned up for the session," said the CM. It was clear that the Akalis were "running away", he said, adding that at no point were Opposition MLAs asked not to attend and the appeal was for all members, including the ruling party.
In any case, if the Akalis are really so concerned about COVID and heeded the advice, then why are they continuing with their street protests despite my repeated pleas to all political parties not to indulge in such activities, which endanger the lives of our people, the CM asked.
Singh also ridiculed the Shiromani Akali Dal's demand for another session of the Vidhan Sabha next month when the state's COVID figures are projected to peak. They could not attend a day's session because of coronavirus and want a full-fledged session at a time when the situation is expected to be worse, he remarked.
He pointed out that despite several of its own ministers and MLAs testing positive, his government had decided to go ahead with the one-day session to meet the constitutional obligation as was being done by other states.
The SAD legislative party on Friday had urged Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore to direct the Congress-led dispensation to reconvene the Vidhan Sabha next month to discuss burning issues.
The opposition party had also accused the state government of using of COVID-19 as a pretext to "run away from facing the ire of people".