Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister and CLP leader Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday led the House in remembering the farmers who had committed suicide, as well as drug abuse victims, while paying homage to several eminent personalities during obituary references.
On the first day of the Budget session, the House paid homage to 10 eminent personalities from different walks of life, who had passed away, leaving an indelible mark on the state in their own different ways. Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh then passed a resolution for conveying the condolences of the House to their respective families.
A two-minute silence was observed in the memory of departed souls as a mark of respect.
The eminent personalities to whom the House paid its respects were Member of Parliament Vinod Khanna and former state DGP Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, besides Nishan Singh, Gurdev Singh and Banta Singh (all freedom fighters), Paramjeet Singh and Inspector-cum-Company Commander (CRPF) Raghubir Singh (both Martyrs), Constable Lovepreet Singh, Agriculture Scientist Dr. Dilbagh Singh Athwal and Kirpal Singh Khirnia.
Earlier, responding to a request by a member, Captain Amarinder urged the Speaker to include the debt-ridden farmers who had committed suicide in the obituary references, to which the Speaker agreed.
In a press statement later, the Chief Minister reiterated his commitment to farm loan waiver, just as he had fulfilled the promise to bring ‘kurki’ to an end in the state. There was no question of backtracking on the debt waiver promise and his government would soon take over the loans of the farmers and also ensure that their mortgaged land/property is not confiscated, he declared.
During the obituary references, the Speaker also acceded to a request by Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to include, in the obituary references, all those who had lost their lives to drugs and other narcotics in the state during the decade-long SAD-BJP regime.
Meanwhile, Congress members Brahm Mohindra, Harmander Gill and Gurkirat Singh Kotli lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for trying to undermine the sanctity of the House and the Speaker, and showing disrespect to all the deceased personalities and other, by walking out in protest against the inclusion of ex-DGP Gill in the obituary references. They dubbed the walkout as a political gimmick by the Akalis, who had no issue with which to take on the government and were feeling cornered in the face of imminent exposure through the impending White Paper to be released by the government soon.
The Congress members later pointed out that the fact that three BJP members did not join the walkout by their ally, the SAD, showed that the Akalis had no leg to stand on. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was also clearly in shambles as reflected in the fact that their LIP alliance members chose to sit on their originally allotted seats this time, unlike during the first session of the 15th Vidhan Sabha, they stated.
Talking to media persons outside the House, Navjot Sidhu said the government was looking for a permanent solution to the problem of farm debts. The aim was to make the farmers so self-reliant that they do not need to take loans in the future, he said, assuring the farmers that the state government would everything in its power to help them stand on their feet. Sidhu suggested a licensing system for money lenders, in order to ensure a fair and just system of taking loans in case of dire necessity.
The minister also listed crop insurance as a measure that the government was looking at to secure the state’s beleaguered farmers. There should be a cap on the lines of Sir Chottu Ram Punjab Relief Indebtedness Act of 1934 so that no farmer has to ever pay more than double the amount of sum insured, said Sidhu. He urged the central government to intervene to check the misuse of NREGA and bring farmers with less than 5 acres of land also into the scheme’s ambit.
On the issue of MSP, Sidhu said the minimum support price of crops should be guided by change in input costs to help farmers get their due remuneration.