Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the Centre not to make revoking its three farm laws a prestige issue and consider so to find a long-term solution to the problem.
Observing that an early resolution to the problem was critical to the safety of Punjab, witnessing a surge in smuggling of weapons into the state from across the border during the past 5-6 months, he asserted that he and his government continue to stand with farmers on the issue.
He said even in his written speech submitted to the Niti Aayog for circulation during its Saturday''s meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he had categorically underscored the need for an “urgent resolution” of the current agitation “to the satisfaction of protesting farmers by addressing all their grievances”.
“It is 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 the repeal of the farm laws,” said the chief minister in a statement.
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”.
Singh, according to the statement, expressed surprise at Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar's claim that no one spoke about the farm laws in the sixth governing council meeting held on Saturday.
Though he could not personally attend the virtual conference owing to ill-health, his speech, which was submitted to the Niti Aayog on Thursday, had highlighted the issue, he said.
He said he had not only reiterated his government's stand that agriculture is a state subject and law-making on it should be left to the states in the true spirit of “cooperative federalism”, but had also underscored the need to resolve the farmers' issues on an urgent basis.
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 in October 2020, were an endorsement of the same.“It is unfortunate that the governor was sitting over these Bills instead of forwarding them to the President for assent,” he said. Singh, meanwhile, rejected as "misinterpretation" a media report which purportedly quoted him ton say that the Punjab CM thinks extending the 18-month hold on farm laws to 24 may be a way out of the stalemate between the Centre and farmers’ on the issue.