Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said Sunday that his statement on extension of the proposed suspension of the three farm laws had been misinterpreted to give a wrong impression that it was his “personal suggestion” that the 18-month hold on farm laws be extended. In fact, he said, he had made it clear that his remarks were based on feedback from some farm groups.
In an interview to The Indian Express Saturday, when asked about a way out of the impasse and whether he was aware of any offer by the Central government (to farmer unions) to keep the bills in abeyance for 24 months, the CM had said, “It’s not my impression. This is what I hear from various groups which are working that there is talk within the farming community that the government may come around to 24 months. Now, if they are offering 18 months and the farmers are demanding three years, somewhere a compromise may come in at two years. That is what we have heard. We keep meeting the farmers, some messages come directly, some indirectly.”
As he said in the interview, the Chief Minister underlined “that his remarks were clearly in reference to the feedback and inputs received on the issue from certain farmer unions, which was taken out of context and presented as his personal suggestion for a compromise.”
The statement said that the CM had “categorically stated in the said interview that ‘from what I understand is that some of the farmers are agreeable to the laws being put on hold for 18 months but may go up to 24 months.’ He was also on record as stating in the same interview that an extended period for putting the laws on hold continued to be in active discussions (between the government and Kisan Unions).”
The CM’s statement came after leader of Opposition and AAP legislator Harpal Cheema tweeted that the CM was speaking the language of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by advising farmers to agree to keep the three farm laws in abeyance for 24 months.
Ruldu Singh Mansa, president of Punjab Kisan Union, also came out with a video statement in which he said,”CM Amarinder has backstabbed the farmers’ struggle by saying that pause on farm laws for 24 months can be a way out.. when we don’t agree to PM’s proposal, why will we agree to him?”
The Chief Minister asserted that he, and his government, continue to stand with the farmers on the issue. It is the farmers who have to decide what is in their interest and to what extent they are willing to compromise, if at all, on their demand for repeal of the Farm Laws, said the Chief Minister in a statement.
In his statement, he pointed out that even in his speech submitted to Niti Aayog for circulation at Saturday’s meeting had categorically underscored the need for “urgent resolution” of the current agitation “to the satisfaction of the protesting farmers by addressing all their grievances.”
It is the farmers who have to decide what is in their interest and to what extent they are willing to compromise, if at all, on their demand for repeal of the Farm Laws, said the Chief Minister. He reiterated his stand that the Central Government should not stand on prestige on the issue and should be willing to revoke the legislations to find an effective, long-term solution to the problem.
The CM said he was surprised that at Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar’s claim that no one spoke about the farm laws in the sixth governing council meeting held yesterday. Though he could not personally attend the virtual conference owing to ill-health, his speech, which was submitted to the Niti Aayog Thursday, had clearly highlighted the issue, the statement said.
The Chief Minister asserted that his, and his government’s, stand on the farm laws had been consistent all through, at every forum, and the state amendment Bills, passed in the Vidhan Sabha, were an endorsement of the same. It was unfortunate that the Governor was sitting over these Bills instead of forwarding them to the President for assent, he said.
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