Punjab Congress Chief Minister Amarinder Singh expressed disappointment at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's failure to address any of the major concerns of the farmers at his Malout rally on Wednesday, saying that Modi missed an opportunity to make some major announcements for the farmers.
Singh also accused the Shiromani Akali Dal of "betraying Punjab" by inviting Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to attend the rally.
"The distressed farmers who had gathered to hear Modi found no succour for their problems in his long speech, which was high on fluff and short of substance," Singh said.
On Wednesday, Modi visited Malout town, around 275 kilometres from Chandigarh, to address a "thanksgiving rally" organised by BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal in the wake of the "biggest hike in MSP for paddy" announced by the Modi government last week.
The Punjab chief minister said he was shocked over the fact that Modi failed to even mention the farmer suicides and debts or even the Swaminathan committee's report.
"If he really wanted to thank the Punjab farmers for contributing to the nation's Green Revolution and for continuing to feed millions of Indians day after day, Modi should have come out with some concrete announcements on the critical issues of farm loan waiver and total implementation of the Swaminathan report," Singh said.
Singh, who heads the Congress government in agrarian Punjab, said the rally turned out to be a "sorry spectacle for the farmers who had braved sweltering heat in the hope of some concrete announcements from the prime minister".
"Instead, Modi's speech turned out to be an insipid affair, focused on tom-tomming of his government's four-year rule, which has been a complete failure on all counts," Singh said.
The chief minister also said it was unfortunate that Modi had let go of a major opportunity to address the serious concerns of the farming community.
The Punjab chief minister also flayed the SAD for "betraying" Punjab by letting Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to participate in the rally in Muktsar district.
"Considering Khattar's stand on the SYL (Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal) and Punjab waters, the Akalis should not have let him be a part of the rally in the first place, or should have used the opportunity to corner him over these important issues which are vital to the interest of Punjab and its farmers," Amarinder Singh said.
The Prime Minister had last week hailed the Union Cabinet's decision to give MSP of 1.5 times on the input cost to farmers as "historic". He also asserted that his government will continue to take steps for the welfare of the farming community, including doubling the income of farmers by 2022.
However, Singh dismissed the MSP hike announced by the Centre as "nothing more than a cosmetic measure", adding that it does not address the core concerns of the farming community.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan participated in the rally as Malout town in south-west Punjab's Muktsar district lies close to the border of all three states. On Wednesday, farmers from various organisations also protested and showed black flags as Modi arrived in Malout.
Meanwhile, Congress state chief Sunil Jakhar has questioned the absence of former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia from the Malout rally, according to The Indian Express said.
He said, "The Prime Minister has made a failed attempt to woo the farmers of three states. Empty chairs in the rally speak volume of the fact that Akali-BJP alliance has lost its credibility among the masses." Jakhar, in his statement lashed out at Modi for not making any announcement for celebrations of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the report added.
With inputs from IANS