Other States

Don’t scrap free power facility for farmers: Shiromani Akali Dal

Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Sukhbir Singh Badal.  

Amarinder denies any such move, says Akalis are resorting to petty politics.

The Shiromani Akali Dal on Saturday warned the Congress government in Punjab against any move to scrapping the free power facility to farmers even as the Chief Minister ruled out any plan to withdraw free power to agriculture.

The SAD held a meeting of its core committee and declared that if the State government scraps free power for agriculture directly or indirectly, the party will launch a State-wide mass movement.

The meeting, chaired by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, passed a resolution which said, “If the Congress government remains stubborn and tries to force this decision on farmers through the back-door under the pretext of cash subsidy, the SAD will not remain a mute witness to it.”

Also Read | Discontinue free power for farmers, says Centre

The core committee also dismissed the government’s stance that the Punjab Cabinet had never contemplated any such move and replace it with a Direct Benefit Transfer scheme. “Even some Ministers confirmed this decision but blamed it on the Union government. But when the SAD declared that it would launch an agitation, the State government panicked and felt compelled to deny it,” the party said.

The SAD also condemned the government for allowing an increase in the fee in medical colleges and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh rejected allegations of withdrawal of free power and said his government is ready to forego the portion of fiscal deficit enhancement offered by the Centre but would not compromise with the farmers’ interest at any cost.

Dismissing the Centre’s suggestion on replacement of free power with DBT as “totally unacceptable and a direct attack on the federal structure”, the Chief Minister said he will take up with the Centre for trying to impose such an anti-farmer condition on the cash-strapped State in the guise of extending fiscal support amid the pandemic.

Asserting that the free power facility would continue till his government is in power, Captain Amarinder said his government will take loans to bridge the fiscal deficit.

The Chief Minister asked Akali Dal Sukhbir to immediately quit the ruling NDA at the Centre and demanded Union Minister and Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s resignation, pointing out that it was the Centre that had directed the States to withdraw the free power. It failed to come to the rescue of the State, and any section of its people, in the wake of the unprecedented coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and lockdown.

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Terming the allegations of the Akali leaders as malicious and unsubstantiated, Captain Amarinder hit out at the SAD leadership for not fighting for the rights of Punjab and its people, including farmers, at the Centre or in Parliament, and resorting, instead, to petty politicking even on such a grave issue of national concern.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 12:09:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dont-scrap-free-power-facility-for-farmers-shiromani-akali-dal/article31711625.ece

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