Tribune News Service
New Delhi, Nov 4
The Centre on Wednesday put the blame squarely on the Congress government in Punjab for disruption of rail services in the state due to a blockade by farmers and said smooth passage of passenger and goods trains was in everyone’s interest, particularly in view of the winter supplies for the forces on the borders.
Countering the allegation of the opposition parties that the farmers were agitating against the farm laws framed by the Central government, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the blockade and agitation had “nothing to do with farmers”, as till date the government agencies had procured a record 158 lakh metric tonnes of paddy on Minimum Support Price (MSP) rate and “this showed they were happy”.
Briefing media on the decision of the Union Cabinet, which met here on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Minister said the protest was being held at 32 places in Punjab with farmers sitting on rail tracks.
“It is the inaction of the state government. Law and order is a state subject. The removal of the rail blockade for the smooth passage of passenger and goods trains is in the interest of everyone. For winters, we have to move LPG cylinders and clothing for forces deployed in forward areas,” Javadekar said responding to a question relating to Punjab Chief Minister’s dharna here.
Javadekar also wondered whether the agitation was “political in nature and in support of commission agents” as farmers had benefitted by selling their produce at a higher MSP rate.
Farmers in Punjab have been protesting against the Centre’s three farm reform laws, which began around September 24, as they expressed apprehension that the new legislations would pave the way for dismantling of the MSP system, leaving them at the “mercy” of capital intensive corporate houses.