Chandigarh, June 29, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
Blaming Akalis for backstabbing Punjabi farmers by not fully supporting the state Government against the anti-farmer ordinances recently issued by the Centre, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said that the SAD President and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal should listen to voice of his conscience rather securing the ministerial berth of his wife in the Union Cabinet and keeping his party ties intact with BJP.
Interacting with media persons here, the Chief Minister said that Shiromani Akali Dal had always been the votary of more rights to the states and their autonomy in the true spirit of federalism.
He, however, said that it was compulsion of the State BJP not to oppose their party’s decision at Centre in this regard while on the contrary Akalis should have taken firm stand to save the state’s beleaguered peasantry by out-rightly rejecting these anti-farmer ordinances.
Answering another question, the Chief Minister these ordinances were an outcome of Shanta Kumar Committee, which recommended scrapping of the MSP regime besides disbanding the FCI. There would be no guarantee for MSP to continue in future as claimed by Sukhbir Badal, once these ordinances are enacted in the Parliament, he added.
Strongly advocating that there should be no politicking over such sensitive issues related to Punjab interests, Captain Amarinder Singh shared how he was summoned by his party high command during his first tenure as the chief minister after terminating the water agreements with neighbouring states to save Punjab’s water from being taken out via the proposed SYL canal.
Captain Amarinder categorically said that he always preferred to safeguard the state’s interests rather his chair. He asked the Akalis that they should also demonstrate the same spirit at this critical juncture to safeguard the interests of farmers rather pursuing their petty political goals.
On the issue of ongoing probe by the SIT in the Behbal Kalan firing incident, the Chief Minister said that the investigation is still underway and none could be declared accused at this stage.
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Responding to another question with regard to Amended draft of Electricity Act-2003 sent by Centre to Punjab, the Chief Minister said that this was another onslaught on the federal structure thereby infringing upon the rights of the states. He categorically said that it was the state’s sole prerogative to grant concessions to the particular section of consumers be it domestic, farmers, commercial or industrial and Centre could not dictate any terms in this behalf. He asserted that the Centre was deliberately undermining the States powers given by the Constitution.
On the issue of Cabinet reshuffle, Captain said that we were passing through a difficult phase of COVID-19 and all of his ministers were doing well especially the Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, Medical Education & Research Minister O.P. Soni and Rural Development & Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa in these trying circumstances of the COVID-19. He said that there was hardly any need of reshuffle at this critical juncture as the foremost priority was to win the battle against corona virus and the reshuffle, if needed, would be considered later on.
Asked to comment whether Navjot Singh Sidhu could be given any new responsibility, the Chief Minister quipped it is up to the party high command to take a final decision whether Sidhu is to be given any responsibility in state or Centre.
Referring to the Paksitan Government’s offer to reopen of the Kartarpur Corridor, the Chief Minister said that the State Government had no issues in this regard but a final call would be taken by the Government of India. He said in case Centre seeks any opinion from the State Government, he would certainly request it to open the Corridor with strict adherence to health protocol and social distancing amid COVID-19.
On the question of appointment of Vini Mahajan as the Chief Secretary, Captain Amarinder said that she had been appointed exclusively on her competence, ability and vast experience & expertise in administration both at state and centre besides maintaining continuity on this post for a longer period for effective implementation of state Government’s policies and programmes.
On another issue regarding her husband DGP Punjab Dinkar Gupta moving to Centre on deputation, who has already been empanelled in Centre as Director General of Police, the Chief Minister said that Gupta would also stay in Punjab as he had done commendable work in neutralising nearly 2500 gangsters besides busting several terrorist modules.
Responding to query regarding mafia-raaj, the Chief Minister categorically said that both the Civil and Police administration were pro-actively involved in checking the illegal sale of liquor and sand. He categorically said that anyone who intends to setup new business in cable or transport in Punjab are most welcome to end the cartelisation in such trades rather he couldn’t force anyone to shut the existing business. He also shared the list of several persons indulged in such unlawful activities and action against them was being taken.
Captain asserted that the Group of Ministers comprising Housing and Urban Development Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria was working out modalities to further tighten the noose on illicit liquor traders besides break the nexus between producers, wholesalers and retailers. The Group will soon submit its report.
Reacting to the statement of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Sing on the issue of Khalistan, the Chief Minister said that no one wants Khalistan even he doesn’t want it. Captain Amarinder questioned why the Sikhs running business almost in every state across the country and leading a prosperous life would demand Khalistan? He said that people like Pannu was spinning money by exploiting the religious sentiments, which was unfortunate. He categorically said that Pannu had neither any support base even in United States amongst Sikhs, which was reflective from his decision to postpone Referendum-2020 due to tepid response.
Referring to the issue of revival of State’s economy on the recommendations of Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s committee amid slowdown in wake of COVID-19, Captain Amarinder said that Ahluwalia had already submitted its preliminary report and the final report would be submitted in due course of time after taking into consideration the recommendations of six expert groups in different field constituted by him.
Asked to comment on the functioning of his Government with regard to observations made by Rajya Sabha Members Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo, the Chief Minister categorically said that they should mind their own business rather making baseless stratements. He said the people of Punjab had given clear verdict in favour of Congress during last assembly elections, which is a testimony to people’s enormous trust and confidence in the policies and programmes of the State Government.
On the issue of fulfilment of promises made by his party during the run up to the Vidhan Sabah polls in 2017, the Chief Minister said that he had been personally reviewing the progress of each and every promise made with the people. He mentioned that nearly 50 promises, which didn’t have any financial implication, were implemented during the first cabinet meeting of his Government after assuming the office. Reiterating his commitment, Captain Amarinder said that all the promises would be implemented in the letter and spirit.
When asked about the delivery of smart phones, one of the major poll promises, the Chief Minister revealed that the Punjab Government had already placed an order with a mobile company LAVA, which conveyed that 50,000 mobiles were ready and the remaining would be supplied in July. He said though LAVA is an Indian company but still we will take a final decision after ascertaining the extent of Chinese involvement and the quantum of Indian and Chinese equity in the said company.