Calling the tractor parade on Republic Day a “testimony to the celebration of the Indian Republic and its constitutional ethos”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday appealed to the farmers to ensure that it remains peaceful, just like their anti-farm law protests.
“Peace has been the hallmark of your (farmers’) democratic protests all these months, and should remain integral to your agitation in the days ahead, including the R-Day tractor rally into the national capital,” the chief minister said in his Republic Day eve message.
“The sight of your (farmers’) tractors on Delhi roads tomorrow will underline the fact that the ethos of the Indian Constitution and the essence of our Republic is inalienable and uncompromisable,” he said.
He said the farmers’ “arduous battle” for survival will always remind people of this truth, and it will always help them remember that the principles on which stands the edifice of India cannot be destroyed or demolished on the whims of a few.
Attacking the Centre, Singh alleged that the federal structure on which India’s polity has been founded is facing “one of its biggest threats” under the present regime. The “brazen” manner in which the three farm laws were pushed through, without debate or discussion, cannot, and should not be accepted in the world’s largest democracy, he said, adding, “The Centre had absolutely no power to legislate on a state subject, which agriculture is, and the implementation of the farm legislations violate every principle of our Constitution and the federal structure it stands for.”
Amrinder said the collective fight, in which his government is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the farmers, is aimed at protecting the federal core of the Indian Constitution. “We stand by every farmer whose sweat and blood has nurtured Punjab’s soil for decades, and without whom India today will not stand tall as a self-reliant nation,” he said.
He extended his respects to all those farmers who had lost their lives in the prolonged agitation, saying it could have been avoided in the first place or could have been brought to an end long back had the “insensitive” Government of India, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party not chosen to stand on an “unwarranted ego”. There was no justification for the central government’s “adamant” refusal to repeal the farm laws, he added.
Recalling the contribution of Punjab’s farmers to India’s self-reliance and progress, the CM said they did not toil with their sweat and blood to see a nation whose constitutional ideals of justice, liberty, equality and dignity, were being “systemically trampled” over the past six years, most notably over the past two months of their struggle.
“The voice of the farmers, and in fact every section of our populace, is being subjugated, and we have to ensure that their voice is not only heard but also heeded,” he asserted.
The celebration of the Indian Republic would not be complete without the acknowledgement of this contribution of Punjab and its farmers to India’s progress, Amarinder said. “And it would be rendered meaningless unless the Centre has the humility to accept that it has done wrong to us, and makes immediate amends by repealing the farm laws to start on a fresh slate, after due discussions with the farmers, as well as the government of Punjab and all others states directly affected by their decisions on agricultural issues,” he said.
“That would be in the true spirit of India’s Republic and Constitution,” Singh said.