Punjab ministers slam BJP for accusations against CM Amarinder Singh

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Chandigarh, Nov 2 (PTI) Punjab Cabinet ministers on Monday lashed out at the BJP over its “atrocious” charges against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, saying it was the BJP state leadership that was “misleading” farmers and spreading “shocking lies” after being “completely cornered” over the issue of farm laws.

They said not only was the BJP in Punjab trying desperately to “fool” the farmers with regard to the agricultural laws of the central government but their leaders and workers were actively indulging in “brazen falsehoods” in a bid to “exploit” the sensitive and critical issue to promote their political interests.

In a joint statement, sixteen ministers, including Brahm Mohindra, Manpreet Singh Badal, O P Soni, said the BJP was trying to “incite” farmers against Amarinder Singh for their own “political gains”.

Reacting to BJP Punjab president Ashwani Sharma's accusations against the chief minister, the ministers said it was obvious that the leaders of the party, which was at the centre of the “ill-conceived” farm laws, were either “oblivious” to the concerns of the farmers or simply did not care.

“The farmers don't need any instigation. They are hurt and shocked at the treatment being meted out to them by the BJP-led central government. They are fighting to save their livelihood and to survive. But clearly, Sharma, like other BJP leaders, has no realisation of this,” a government statement quoting ministers said.

The ministers scorned the allegation that the Congress-led government in Punjab was responsible for the continued farmers' protests and suspension of the goods trains.

“Did we also mislead all those BJP leaders in the state who have quit in protest against the farm laws in recent days,” they asked in the statement, trashing Sharma's accusation that the chief minister was “misleading” farmers as “ridiculous to the extreme”. Recalling that the Centre had not suspended movement of trains in Punjab even during the dark days of terrorism, the ministers said the reasons of law and order cited by the railways in the present instance was inexplicable, especially since the farmers had already announced their decision to allow transport of supplies by trains.

Pointing out that the security and safety of trains was the responsibility of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), with the state government having no say in the matter, the ministers asked what the Amarinder Singh government had to do with the safe movement of trains.

This was not the first time tracks had been blocked by farmers in a state, they said, adding that instances of such blockades had been reported in many places, irrespective of the government in power, even in the past.

“So does that mean the chief minister of that state becomes responsible,” the statement quoted the ministers as saying.

“Punjab's industry is suffering, its agriculture is suffering, and the economy, which is already severely impacted by the Centre's failure to release the state's dues amid COVID-19, is further crashing day by day as a result of the suspension of the goods trains,' it said. PTI CHS VSD AQSa AQS