Chandigarh, Sep 22 (PTI) The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the BJP's oldest ally, on Tuesday announced road blockades across Punjab on September 25 to protest against the contentious farm bills passed by Parliament.
However, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the Akalis' decision as yet another 'brazen attempt' to 'exploit' the sentiments of farmers and said perhaps this could even be to 'sabotage' the farmers' fight at the behest of the central government.
Rajya Sabha passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, during the day. It had cleared the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, on Sunday.
The bills had been passed by Lok Sabha last week.
'It has been decided to hold a 'chakka jaam' (road blockade) on September 25 in Punjab against these farm bills,' SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema said.
He said the party's senior leaders and workers, farmers and farm labourers would block roads in the state for three hours from 11 am in a peaceful manner.
Earlier, around 30 farmers' outfits had already given a call for a complete shutdown in Punjab on September 25 in protest against the bills.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal will launch a four-day state-wide mass contact programme on September 26 during which he would make party workers aware about the 'adverse impact' of these bills on the farming community, Cheema said.
He said on October 1, Sukhbir Badal would take out a 'kisan march' from Damdama Sahib in Bathinda.
Former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal would lead the march from the Akal Takht in Amritsar and party leader Prem Singh Chandumajra and he would lead the march from Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Cheema said.
The march will culminate at Mohali following which the SAD leadership would present to the Punjab governor a memorandum addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, he said, adding that an appeal would be made to take back these bills. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Thursday resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against three farm sectors bills. She was Union food processing industries minister.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in a statement asked the SAD 'why don't you go to Delhi and do a chakka jam outside the homes of BJP leaders and others who have shamelessly sold off the interests of Punjab's farmers to big corporate houses for their own petty interests'.
He also dared the SAD to quit the central government if it really cared for farmers. Singh attacked Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal, saying they continue to indulge in their 'hypocritical pretence' of standing with farmers.
'What are these double standards? Why did your core committee today not take a decision on quitting the BJP-led NDA coalition,” he asked SAD chief Sukhbir Badal.
Questioning the SAD's announcement of holding 'chakka jaam' across Punjab, the chief minister said this clearly exposed the Akalis' 'malicious intentions', since the farmers' and other organisations had already declared a 'bandh' for September 25 several days ago. 'The Centre is clearly out to ruin Punjab, and the Akalis have been actively supporting this agenda with all their might,' he said, adding that their purported rethink on the issue also appears to be a 'conspiracy' to undermine farmers' agitation. PTI CHS VSD ANB ANB