Moga (Pb), Oct 4 (PTI) Punjab MLA and former state cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday attended a tractor rally led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi here to protest the Centre's new farm laws.
Gandhi arrived here on Sunday for holding tractor rallies across Punjab from October 4 to 6.
The rallies, named 'Kheti Bachao Yatra', would cover more than 50 km in various districts and constituencies in three days.
Sidhu's participation in the rally came three days after All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat met him at his residence in Amritsar.
After the meeting, Rawat said the cricketer-turned-politician would attend the tractor rallies.
Addressing a public gathering here, Sidhu slammed the BJP-led Centre over the farm laws termed them an 'attack on federal structure'.
'They (BJP government) are robbing us of our rights,' he said, adding the Centre had imposed a 'system which had failed in Europe and the US'.
These new legislations would adversely affect five lakh labourers and 30,000 commissioned agents, Sidhu claimed.
When Punjab Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on the stage asked Sidhu to cut short his speech, he replied, 'Brother, do not stop me today.' Slamming the BJP-led Centre over the issue of farm laws, Sidhu said the Union government has turned 'ungrateful' and was 'trying to take away' fixed income of farmers.
'This government intends to give everything to capitalists. I protest the black laws with my black turban,' he said.
Where would farmers go when the mandi system is 'snatched', Sidhu posed, adding the farmers were on the roads because they felt threatened that their MSP would be 'taken away' with these new laws.
'How can small farmers fight the capitalists? This country is being run by capitalists,' he alleged.
Alleging that the Centre waived Rs 5 lakh crore of capitalists every year, he asked, 'What was given to farmers? Nothing”.
Sidhu expressed displeasure over protesters not being allowed to cross Haryana and water cannons were used against them.
The Punjab government should give MSP on pulses and oilseeds to farmers, he said.
Later, Rahul Gandhi along with Amarinder Singh rode on a tractor driven by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs, Harish Rawat, Sidhu and other MLAs were on another tractor as part of a rally.
Sidhu, who had been at loggerheads with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, had stayed away from all Congress activities ever since he resigned as cabinet minister last year.
However, last month, he had staged a protest against the farm bills in Amritsar but without Congress' flags.
He had described the farm bills as an 'attack on the federal structure' and had also said these 'black laws' would 'ruin' the farming community.
The MLA from Amritsar East seat was stripped of key portfolios in the cabinet reshuffle in June last year.
The chief minister had divested Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio.
However, Sidhu had refused to assume the charge and resigned.
The tension between the Punjab chief minister and Sidhu had come out in the open in May last year when Singh had blamed Sidhu for the 'inept handling' of the Local Government Department, claiming it had resulted in 'poor performance' of the Congress in urban areas in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Singh had taken umbrage at Sidhu's 'friendly match' jibe during electioneering in Bathinda on May 17.
Sidhu had allegedly cornered the Congress government in the state over the issue of the desecration of religious texts, questioning why no FIR was lodged against the Badals, who ran the previous government in the state. PTI CHS VSD NSD NSD