The men, who many hold responsible for the political turmoil in Punjab, are back at their favourite pastime again.
After maintaining a discreet silence and lying “politically” low for some days, Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday termed ousted chief minister Amarinder Singh as the “architect” of the controversial farm laws.
Not to be left behind, Amarinder, in reply, lambasted Sidhu, calling him “a fraud and cheat” who was clueless about Punjab.
“The Architect of 3 Black Laws … Who brought Ambani to Punjab’s Kisani … Who destroyed Punjab’s Farmers, Small traders and Labour for benefiting 1-2 Big Corporates !!,” Sidhu had said in a tweet.
Sidhu’s reaction came a day after Amarinder’s interview to some TV channels and websites blaming Sidhu for his removal as chief minister and announcing his intention to float a party with the BJP as an ally, provided a solution is found ending the farmer-Centre impasse over the contentious farm laws.
“What a fraud and cheat you are @sherryontopp ! You’re trying to pass off my 15-year-old crop diversification initiative as connected with #FarmLaws, against which I’m still fighting and with which I’ve linked my own political future!” one of Amarinder’s tweets on his media advisers handle reads.
“It’s obvious @sherryontopp you’re clueless about Punjab’s & its farmers’ interests. You clearly don’t know the difference between diversification & what the #FarmLaws are all about. And yet you dream of leading Punjab. How dreadful if that ever happens!” another tweet states.
Interestingly, the Punjab government had, in 2006, under Amarinder Singh, signed an MoU with the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Retail, entailing an initial investment of Rs 500 crore to be scaled to Rs 3,000 crore later.
The agreement proposed setting up of 52 rural hubs and 250 sub-hubs across 18 districts of Punjab to facilitate Sidhu’s reaction came a day after Amarinder announced on various TV channels to float a party and indicated a pre-alliance with the BJP, subject to a favourable solution to the farmers’ agitation.
Besides the cultivation of fresh vegetables, training of farmers, facilitate micro irrigation to contain the dwindling water table in the state, expand dairy farming, education projects for the primary and middle education and entertainment hubs for the rural population, the project aimed to cover 12,400 villages in Punjab under the Reliance Rural Hubs model.
The ambitious project, signed in the presence of then deputy chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, also entailed setting up progressive farming practices, building infrastructure, cold storages and signing agreements with farmers, was scrapped by the successor Parkash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government in 2009 on the pretext that no action had been taken by Reliance Retail in accordance with the provisions of the MoU. It was revived later, but on a much smaller scale.
For many in Punjab it is hilarious how a political “war” is being fought on the social media and not through rallies as has been the norm earlier in the run-up to elections. Punjab goes to the polls early next year.
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