Amarinder Singh crosses swords with Kejriwal, calls him sneaky little fellow'
Chandigarh/New Delhi, Dec 2: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh called his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal “this sneaky little fellow” as the two traded charges over the notification of one of the three new central farm laws in the national capital.
A day earlier the Punjab chief minister had slammed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader over the November 23 notification in Delhi, accusing the party of just “pretending” to support the farmers’ cause.
At a press briefing in Delhi Wednesday Kejriwal hit back, but that triggered the release of another press statement by the Congress veteran in Chandigarh. Kejriwal’s AAP is the main opposition in Congress-run Punjab, farmers from where are now camped outside Delhi in a huge protest against the Centre’s agri-marketing laws. Amarinder Singh trashed Kejriwal's assertion that states are “helpless” against central legislation, and said it was clear that the AAP leader did not even want to try to fight the “draconian” laws.
He accused Kejriwal of “undermining” the farmers' fight by notifying one of the laws and reminded that the Punjab Assembly had passed its own Bills in an attempt to “negate” them. “Instead of meekly just notifying the central laws, Kejriwal could have tried to make some effort to counter them and protect the rights of the farmers,” the Punjab chief minister said. He alleged it is evident that “this sneaky little fellow, whose double standards have been exposed time and again, is now completely cornered on the issue.”
In his briefing earlier, Kejriwal had accused the Punjab CM of playing "dirty politics", and suggested that he was under pressure from Central agencies. "I want to ask Captain saheb, are you under the pressure of these very same people because of which you are making these false allegations against me, abusing me. I know that the reason may be that your family is charged with cases and receiving notices from the ED," he said.
The three farm laws were implemented across the country with the signature of the president and no state can stop them, he said.
"If the implementation of the laws depended on the states, why would farmers from across the nation reach Delhi to talk to the Centre and put their demands forward? They would have put their demands in front of their chief ministers," he said. He accused the Punjab CM of not trying to stop the farm bills when he had the chance. "Captain saheb had many chances to stop the farm bills. Why did he not act against these bills being a member of the central government's committee formulating and deliberating on these bills?" Kejriwal asked. "Is this Captain saheb's friendship with the BJP or is he under pressure, because of which he is making false allegations against me?" he asked.
Kejriwal also said his AAP government had angered the BJP government at the Centre by refusing to give permission for turning city stadiums into temporary jails for protesting farmers. Singh hit back, saying it was apparent that Kejriwal, whose survival depended on the central government, was more worried about angering it than about the farmers’ plight.
He dubbed Kejriwal's latest comments – including an appeal to the Centre to address the farmers' concerns -- as “mere hogwash” and said the AAP leader's actions had “exposed the hollowness” of his remarks. It is evident that Kejriwal is only playing to the sentiments of the farmers now because his party has completely lost the political narrative in Punjab, he charged. The Delhi government notified the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 on November 23.
Thousands of farmers, most of them from Punjab, are camping at Delhi’s border demanding a repeal of the central laws. Farmer union’s claim that the new laws will lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, which the Centre denies. The Narendra Modi government says the laws give more options to farmers to sell their crops, fetching better prices for them.