Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said no Akali leader, especially former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, had the moral right to speak on the crisis triggered by the farm laws, which they could easily have averted when they were part of the central government and party to each of its anti-people decisions.
In a hard-hitting response to Harsimrat's claims and allegations against him with reference to his statement on the impact of the prolonged farmers' stir in Punjab on the state's economy, the Chief Minister slammed the Akali leader over her politically motivated remarks which were nothing but a cover-up of her and her party's failure to prevent the crisis that was of their own deliberate making.
Ridiculing the former union minister's remarks that he was speaking the language of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership and the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister said that left to the ruling party at the Centre and in neighbouring Haryana, the farmers would not have even reached the Delhi borders to make their voice heard.
"I never asked the farmers to go to Delhi. They were forced to leave their homes and sit at the border of the national capital, facing the elements and even losing their lives, as a result of your coalition government's acts of commission and omission," he said.
It was evident that the Akalis were trying to divert the farmers' attention from the Centre to the state, with an eye on the Assembly polls, unmindful of the harm this would cause to the state and to the farmers themselves, he added.
Trashing Harsimrat's allegation that he had failed to fulfill his responsibilities to the people, the Chief Minister pointed out that already, many had lost their jobs and many more were likely to be rendered jobless as a result of the continued stir.
"Even members of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and FICCI had warned that the continued stir would have a long-term "deleterious impact" on Punjab's scene of industry and commerce. Are you saying that as chief minister, I have no responsibility to all these people," he asked Harsimrat.
As for not taking the farmers' fight to the Centre, the Chief Minister advised Harsimrat to ask her media team to search out the press reports of his personal visits, meetings, letters and phone calls to the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and other central government ministers on the issue over the past one year.
"And while you are at it, why don't you also check how many of my government's representatives have reached out to the farmers personally on multiple occasions," he said, adding that he himself had held several meetings on the issue but had chosen to respect the farmers' wish for non-interference by any political party or leader. "But you and your party would not understand their sentiments and wishes, of course, as such things are beyond your selfish comprehension," he remarked.