That the situation in Punjab remains in a state of flux after the farm legislations passed by the Centre is evident from the letter written by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to BJP chief JP Nadda, objecting to the farmers’ agitation being compared to the Naxal movement. Denying the complicity of the Congress government in the stir, the CM has also called for collective will to tide over the crisis. As the CM has pointed out, the continued suspension of goods trains could have security implications, not just for Punjab but also J&K and Ladakh, giving our nosy neighbour a handle to interfere in the state’s affairs. The CM’s warning, made a day after the Prime Minister’s observations on the Pulwama attack, is not unjustified in view of Punjab’s history, despite the propensity of the political parties to raise the issue to drive home their point.
The disruption of goods trains hampered the functioning of thermal power plants and it remains to be seen how the essential supplies, along with foodgrain procured this kharif season, will be transported and distributed if the lockdown gets extended amid warnings of a second wave. The controversy over farm laws saw the SAD-BJP ties under strain, with Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigning from the Union Cabinet on the ground that she was not consulted. As the CM called it a violation of the principles of federalism, the Punjab BJP chief faced assault and the meeting called at the level of the Union Agriculture Secretary to sort out the issue proved to be inconclusive. All this has added to the sense of drift.
Along with Punjab, Rajasthan has also passed laws to override the Centre’s farm legislations. They will now have to be routed through the ministry concerned for presidential assent. All this has been done within the framework of the Constitution which also means the need for evolving mechanisms to find a way out of the impasse instead of heading for a confrontation. Punjab should call a meeting of all political parties and stakeholders to evolve a common stance inviting the Centre to play the moderator.