Chandigarh, Feb 2 : Ridiculing Sukhbir Badal’s remarks welcoming the Union Budget 2020-21 as pro-farmer and pro-poor, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday termed it a case of brazen sycophancy with nothing to substantiate the tall claims of the Akali chief.
The Chief Minister wondered what Sukhbir had found to be positive for the farmers in the budget, which even agriculture experts and farmer bodies had rejected as totally bereft of any initiative to save the agrarian sector. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was blinded by power and could not see the problems faced by the farmers, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president was apparently so blinded by his sycophant love for the ruling party that he could see nothing wrong in their actions, said Captain Amarinder.
Despite having three ministers in the Union Cabinet from the state, the BJP-Akali combine have failed to secure a debt relief scheme for the farmers, who continue to reel under massive debt burdens, not just in Punjab but across the country, the Chief Minister remarked. Questioning Sukhbir’s reaction hailing the Rs 15 lakh crore budgetary allocation for the agriculture sector, Captain Amarinder asked how the Akali leader thought the mere 10% increase over last year for agriculture and allied sectors to be sufficient to tackle the grave crisis faced by the debt-ridden farmers. With this measly allocation, which comes nowhere near meeting the needs of the farmers, how does Sukhbir hope to see the farmers’ income getting doubled in the next two years, he asked.
And without farmer uplift, there was no possibility of rural consumption going up, which would naturally scuttle economic growth even further, said the Chief Minister. Sukhbir’s refusal to acknowledge and admit that there is a serious crisis prevailing in the agriculture sector is symptomatic of the Akalis’ totally non-alienation from the grassroots, which, along with their greed, was the root cause of their political demise in Punjab, the Chief Minister said. “How else can one explain Sukhbir’s complete failure to accept that his own state’s farmers are crying for help, which only the central government can provide?” he asked. Captain Amarinder said that while his government was doing its best in Punjab, a holistic national policy, encompassing debt waiver, MSP for all crops and diversification etc was the only long-term solution to the problem. Nothing has, unfortunately, been proposed in the budget to encourage crop diversification, despite the fact that buffer stocks of food grains are already putting the states and farmers under extreme stress, he pointed out.
Further, said the Chief Minister, there was nothing in the budget to ensure the procurement of alternative MSP crops, which was critical to promoting diversification and breaking the vicious wheat-paddy cycle that alone could alleviate the farmers’ woes and boost their income. Even the landless farmers had been completely ignored in the budget, that offers nothing to rectify the hugely flawed crop insurance scheme, which Punjab did not find workable or beneficial, pointed out the Chief Minister. What is more, under the garb of changes in the incentive scheme for chemical fertiliser, the Government of India seemed to be getting ready to introduce DBT for urea, which Punjab had already opposed as it will put the farmers under the burden of unnecessary paper work for the use of 25 lac tonnes of urea annually. (UNI)