All parties except BJP to ask Centre to withdraw farm ordinances: Pb govt

Chandigarh, June 24 (PTI) All major political parties of Punjab, barring the BJP, on Wednesday resolved to appeal to the Centre to withdraw ordinances related to the agriculture sector in public interest and not to tinker with the MSP regime, a state government release claimed here.

The meeting was convened by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to evolve a consensus on the recently passed three ordinances -- the Farmers'' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance.

While the BJP completely opposed the resolution, its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), while initially expressing reservation on the same, eventually decided to partially endorse it, the release claimed.

The SAD opted to go with the other parties in resolving “that existing assured purchase under Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime and the State APMCs (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) should not be tinkered with in any manner,” it said.

The SAD also decided to support the decision of all parties to take a delegation to meet the prime minister and the Union agriculture minister on the issue, the release said The resolution read that “a delegation of representatives of all political parties led by the Punjab chief minister would meet the prime minister and Union agriculture minister to convey their strong reservations on these anti-farmer legislations and urge them to immediately withdraw these in public interest.” It stated that the present ordinances are against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.

However, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the party would like a legal opinion before terming the ordinances as against the spirit of cooperative federalism.

The SAD on the issue of the all-party delegation meeting the prime minister for withdrawal of the ordinances, said, in a separate statement, that the party will “go to the PM to clear any doubts and get assurance that MSP and assured marketing will continue.” The resolution was passed after a five-hour long video conference meeting convened by the Amarinder Singh, said the government release.

However, SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema described the press release issued by the state government as “false and totally misleading”.

“Both SAD and BJP were on same page and firmly conveyed that these acts have nothing to do with MSP,” Cheema tweeted.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the Centre has no right to interfere in the matter of agriculture.

Pointing out that the Centre had come out with these ordinances without waiting for the report of the Committee formed under Maharashtra chief minister to assess all aspects of the issue, Singh urged the SAD chief “to go by your heart and not let politics rule your decision”.

Singh's appeal to Badal came after the latter initially opposed the resolution, arguing that there was nothing wrong in the ordinances.

Describing the ordinances as pro-farmer and aimed at encouraging competition, Badal initially rejected the suggestion that the move was a precursor to ending the MSP system, pointing out that it was not written anywhere.

The chief minister said the aim was clear, and the ordinances had to be seen in the context of the developments of the past six years.

Dubbing the ordinances as “dangerous”, Singh pointed out that the Shanta Kumar committee report had recommended gradual withdrawal of MSP and dismantling of FCI.

Badal, in a party statement, accused the ruling Congress of politicising the issue of ordinances and said, “for the SAD, no ministry, government and alliance was beyond the welfare of the 'annadaata' (farmers).” BJP state president Ashwani Sharma termed the ordinances as pro-farmer, and denied any move to kill the MSP regime, claiming that the MSP was permanent.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann said the legislations were totally against federalism principle, and said it would ruin Punjab.

MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI (M) and BSP also extended their support to the state government on the issue, said the release. PTI CHS VSD ANB ANB