First the BJP government at the Centre, and now the Bhagwant Mann-led government in Punjab seems to be on a collision course with farmer unions over continued protests in the state. The chief minister on Friday took on the unions, saying some of them were staging dharnas for “monetary considerations”.
Mann said farmer unions were holding the state government to ransom by blocking roads and staging dharnas to get their demands fulfilled. “Blocking roads and stopping traffic flow is not good. It is becoming a trend to hold dharnas. People are being inconvenienced. So far, you have public sympathy but you will lose that too if the public is inconvenienced by your actions. It is your right to hold democratic protests, but please do it outside the house of our MLAs/ministers or at the DC office,” he said.
Launching a scathing attack, the CM said some of the farmer unions were protesting only to mark their presence. “Some of them, not all, have made advance bookings for dharnas. They first stage a dharna seeking a meeting with the government… then stage another after the meeting. They do it to seek funds and have to show that the money collected is utilised,” he added.
During the farm law agitation, the Aam Aadmi Party had sided with farmer groups and were seen cosying up to the unions. An agitated Mann said his government had made a number of farmer friendly decisions in the last seven months.
“Out of 624 farmers who died in the struggle, the kin of 326 have already got jobs. As and when there are more vacancies created in the government, the remaining will be adjusted,” he said.
Several farmer unions have been staging dharnas across the state – at Amritsar, Faridkot, Mukerian, Patiala and Talwandi Sabo. These unions have been demanding jobs for the next of kin and monetary compensation for families of farmers who died in the year-long struggle against farm laws. Besides, they are also asking for a bonus for wheat yield loss, cancellation of FIRs against farmers for stubble burning among other demands.
Mann further said the government had accepted almost all such demands. Farmers still protesting in the state, however, did not take kindly to the CM’s words and have threatened to intensify their stir.
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