New Delhi: The Punjab government has lashed out against the Centre complaining of a "step-motherly" treatment. It also accused the centre over an "economic-blockade-like" situation.
In the wake of the farmers agitation, movement of goods trains remained temporarily suspended. This suspension resulted in lack of essential goods including Coal which has resulted in a power outage across the state.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is in the city to meet the President. The meeting did not materialize and Singh expressed that he wanted to appraise the President of the prevailing situation and discuss on the farm laws. While speaking to reporters, Singh added, "He (President Ram Nath Kovind) is the head of the nation and we wanted to tell him about the situation in Punjab and hoped that he would talk to the central government."
Accompanied by Congress MPs from Punjab, who alone were given permission by Delhi Police to visit Rajghat along with him, the Chief Minister said that the Centre's "step-motherly attitude" towards Punjab was wrong.
"The state has not been paid GST dues since March and its constitutional guarantee is also pending. Even the Disaster Relief Fund has been stopped by the Centre. We don't have money; our coal stocks are over," he said while asking "how can we survive in this situation?"
While emphasizing that agriculture was a state subject and that the government was well within its rights to make new laws, the Chief Minister also revealed the grim power situation in Punjab. Singh said, "Today, all our power plants have shut down because we have no coal coming in. All the electricity that's there in Punjab is through the central grid. We have shortage of equipment to keep the bumper crop that has been harvested. We have old grain we are not being able to send out of the state. Only 10 per cent of the required fertilizer is available for crops."
With regards to farming activity, he said that farmers did not have access to essential fertilizers and Urea. Farmers were reportedly complaining of lack of gunny bags to store crops from a bumper harvest.
With regards to movement of railway wagons, he said he had spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who had asked for a guarantee on safety of goods trains moving to and from Punjab, adding that it was not necessary since protesting farmers had agreed to allow supplies through rail wagons, except for two private plants where they were still blocking the tracks to the coal shutters.
"Why can't goods trains be allowed on other tracks," he asked.
The Chief Minister recalled that during Manmohan Singh's tenure as the Prime Minister, he had once asked the PM why he was giving so much to the Akalis in Punjab and Dr Manmohan Singh had responded that as a leader of the central government, he had to treat everyone equally. Amarinder Singh said he hoped the present central government will also adopt a similar approach towards all state governments.
Singh also said that "Soldiers from Punjab guard the country's borders in Siachen, Gurez, Drass, Kargil, Galwan, Daulat Beg Oldi, we can never speak against the nation..."
Amarinder Singh later proceeded to the Jantar Mantar in central Delhi to kick-start a "relay dharna" by Punjab Congress MPs and MLAs, joined by Lok Insaf Party legislator Simranjit Singh Bains, Punjabi Ekta Party MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa.
With inputs from IANS.