Akali Dal and Congress trade charges over farm laws

By Special Correspondent
Farmers shout slogans as they make their way to Delhi to join farmers who are continuing their protest against the Centre's farm reforms laws, at Beas town in Amritsar, September 5, 2021 (Source: PTI)

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress leaders on September 15 exchanged sharp words on the three controversial farm laws.

After Punjab Congress president Navjot Sidhu alleged that the Centre’s three farm laws had been “authored by the Badals” of the Akali Dal, senior SAD leader and former Minister Daljeet Cheema alleged that the Congress chief was “trying to fool people by raking up old issues”, and asked him to “muster courage to repeal the amendments made in the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act by the Congress government in 2017”.

“Sidhu’s utterances hint that he is keen to play a game of one-upmanship with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and has no intention of doing anything to ensure repeal of the three agriculture Acts. Sidhu has woken up from his slumber and wants to project himself as a sympathiser of the farmers’ cause even though he has done nothing to support this cause in the last one year,” Mr. Cheema said.

Mr. Sidhu alleged at a press conference that, “The Centre’s farm laws were photostat copies of Badal’s Contract Farming Act 2013 that were enacted during the previous SAD-BJP government led by Parkash Singh Badal.”

Speaking about the 2013 Act, Mr. Cheema said “Sidhu seems to have forgotten that his wife was a Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the then government. Sidhu had also failed to dig up files and detail the Congress party’s response to the Act.”

He also asked Mr. Sidhu to state if he had ever objected to the 2013 Act as a Minister in the Congress government in 2017 or “even later”. “It is only now, with elections months away, that you [Sidhu] are taking up this issue to cover up your failures,” the Akali leader said.

Mr. Cheema also said that the APMC Act had contained provisions that were similar to the three farm laws. “The amendments allowed for the creation of private mandis, direct purchase from farmers, a uniform licensing system, and the establishment of an e-trading platform. You [Sidhu]] are yet to raise your voice against this even as you indulge in empty theatrics and mischievous allegations,” Mr. Cheema claimed

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