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Friday,24-September-2021

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Shiromani Akali Dal demands two-day debate on farmers’ issues

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The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday requested the Vidhan Sabha Speaker to allocate two days for an exclusive discussion on issues concerning the farmers during the ongoing budget session. It also demanded that the Congress government announce a minimum support price (MSP) for vegetables and fruits.

The SAD legislative wing, which handed over a representation in this regard to Speaker Rana K.P. Singh under the leadership of Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, said the two-day discussion, besides covering the issues of the farm loan waiver promise, farmer suicides and the Congress government’s failure to take up the issue of repeal of the three agricultural laws with the Centre, should also spell out the way forward.

The representation said one such way ahead was announcing MSP for all vegetables and fruits immediately.

It said this measure would provide much needed security to vegetable and potato growers as well as kinnow growers, among others.

The SAD legislators, while informing the Speaker that the state was in the midst of an agrarian crisis, said “the major reason for this is the complete loan waiver promise made by then Pradesh Congress President Amarinder Singh in January 2017.”

They said Amarinder Singh had clearly promised that in case the Congress party forms the government in Punjab it would waive off all farmer loans be it from government or private banks, cooperative societies or arhatiyas or commission agents.

The legislators said the Congress government’s failure to implement the loan waiver scheme had resulted in 1,500 farmer suicides and indebtedness had increased because the people believed the Chief Minister and did not pay their loan instalments.

They said the Congress party had also promised Rs 10 lakh compensation and a government job to the families of all the farmers who committed suicide due to indebtedness but even this promise was not kept.

The SAD legislators said similarly farmers were very perturbed at the failure of the Punjab government to come to the aid of those protesting against the farm laws.

They said the Punjab government participated in meetings in which the three agricultural Ordinances, which later took the shape of laws, were finalized.

The lawmakers added that the Punjab government had also amended the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act (APMC) in 2017, months after it formed the government in the state.

“The amended APMC has the same provisions as contained in the three central Acts and that is why farmers are demanding it be scrapped.”

They said the Punjab farmers were also angry that their government had not defended them against persecution by Delhi Police and that the Chief Minister had failed to take up the issues of farmers with the Centre.

The SAD legislators also pointed out that other agricultural issues which needed a resolution included timely release of hundreds of crores owed to sugarcane farmers and ensuring an increase of the state Assured Price on the pattern of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The members, while requesting the Speaker to allow this discussion on priority, said not doing so would be tantamount to betraying the ‘annadaata’.

“We are confident that you will not disappoint the peasantry and will go down in the annals of history as the custodian of the House who put the ‘annadaata’ first”, they told the Speaker.

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Bombay High Court notice to 2 BJP MLAs in disqualification case

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Bombay High Court.

Bombay High Court.

 The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday issued notices to two sitting BJP MLAs, including a deputy Chief Minister in connection with a disqualification petition filed against the two by the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).

The notices were issued to Deputy Chief Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar and Public Works Department Minister Deepak Pauskar, both of whom split the regional party in March 2019 and merged their breakaway unit into the ruling BJP.

The next hearing in the disqulaification case has been scheduled for October 22.

In all 13 Congress MLAs and two MLAs from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party have joined the ruling BJP since 2019. Forty MLAs constitute the Goa legislative assembly. The state is heading for assembly polls in early 2022.

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Punjab CM gets Rahul’s nod for cabinet expansion list

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In a late night meeting which ended after 2 a.m. on Friday, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi gave his nod to a list with proposed names for the Punjab cabinet expansion, sources said.

Some new faces are likely to be inducted but it will not be entirely new and people from all backgrounds will be given chance to serve in the Channi cabinet.

Rahul Gandhi met Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi along with state in-charge Harish Rawat and General Secretary K.C. Venugopal late Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting Rahul had separate meeting with Rawat.

The party does not want to drop all the ministers in the past cabinet as it will strengthen former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s side. These MLAs could be crucial ahead of elections.

The former chief minister has spoken out in public that he is upset over the way his exit was engineered and that he was humiliated for not being taken into confidence before the big move.

He disclosed that he had offered his resignation to party President Sonia Gandhi three weeks earlier but she had asked him to continue. “If she had just called me and asked me to step down, I would have,” he said, adding that “as a soldier, I know how to do my task and leave once I am called back”.

Amarinder Singh has also said that he would fight Navjot Singh Sidhu’s elevation to Punjab Chief Ministership tooth and nail, and was ready to make any sacrifice to save the country from such a “dangerous man”.

Amarinder Singh said he will pit a strong candidate against Sidhu in the 2022 Assembly polls to ensure his defeat.

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AAP won’t be deterred by ED notices: Raghav Chadha

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The Bharatiya Janata Party will not be able to deter Kejriwal’s cadre into submission via summons and notices, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha said on Wednesday as he accompanied party’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta, who appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office regarding a money laundering case on Wednesday morning.

“Have a look at the timings of these notices. It came at a time when AAP is gearing for upcoming assembly election in the states of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Gujarat and Goa,” said Chadha while briefing media outside the ED office.

Calling the notice a “love letter”, the MLA further said that it is only because of AAP’s politics of sincere work that BJP is scared to such an extent.

“When AAP challenged BJP in its own ‘gadh’ (territory) Surat in Gujarat, it had to change its chief minister. Before that they had to change their chief ministers twice in Uttarakhand. We are confident of AAP coming to power in Punjab and Goa as well and it has only been possible because of our hard work,” he added, urging the saffron party to follow their lead.

Since the time AAP has formed a government in Delhi, we have received a summon or notice every assessment year. How many of BJP party leaders ever been treated the same way, he asked.

On September 13, the Enforcement Directorate issued summons to Aam Aadmi Party national secretary Pankaj Gupta in a money laundering case related to the Punjab former AAP leader.

“Gupta has been asked to join the probe next week,” said a senior officer with Enforcement Directorate adding that he has been summoned in a money laundering case in which Punjab former AAP MLA and Punjab Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira is being probed while also being investigated in a money laundering case.

India’s premier financial investigative agency — Enforcement Directorate — has also taken cognisance of two separate cases relating to drug trafficking and fake passport registered against Khaira.

The ED has alleged that Khaira is an “associate” of drug case convicts and fake passport racketeers.

The case against him pertains to the probe in a 2015 Fazilka (Punjab) drugs-smuggling case in which 1,800 gm of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, two weapons, 26 live cartridges and two Pakistani SIM cards were seized by security agencies from a gang of international drug smugglers.

The 56-year-old politician has denied any wrongdoing and had said he is being targeted by Central agencies as he has been vocal against the Centre’s farm laws.

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