The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday asked Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to “oppose the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme for government purchase of food grains resolutely instead of seeking time to implement the same”.

SAD also asked the Centre to “reconsider imposing the scheme forcefully on Punjab”.

In a statement here, SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said: “Captain Amarinder Singh was at fault for agreeing to implement the scheme from the forthcoming Rabi season. It is because of this acquiescence of the chief minister that the Union government is now compelling the government to implement the scheme immediately.”

Asking the chief minister to “explain why he had not defended the State’s rights to dispense money for food grains purchased from farmers through arhtiyas as per the age-old practice”, Cheema said: “The chief minister had even failed to meet the prime minister on this issue since the last one year. Similarly, no effort has been made to take along all other political parties to form a consensus so that the move to infringe on the powers of the State as well as weaken the federal system could be stopped in its tracks.”

Asserting that “the Congress government had never opposed the proposed DBT system”, the SAD leader said “Captain Amarinder had meekly surrendered before the central government and agreed to its unjust dictates knowing full well that the farmers of the State did not want application of the new system in Punjab.”

He said it was “unfortunate that even now, despite being aware of the sentiments of the farmers, the chief minister had not told the centre that the State would not implement the DBT scheme”.

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Cheema also asked the central government to reconsider implementing the DBT scheme in Punjab. He said a consensus had emerged in Punjab that the scheme would create further complications. “Farmers who take land on lease as well as NRIs would be affected and there are no effective safeguards to watch over their interests,” he said.

The Akali leader said: “The Centre’s stubbornness in changing a successful system which had stood the test of time had led to a feeling amongst farmers that it was introducing the new system deliberately to harass them and teach them a lesson for opposing the three agricultural laws.”

Cheema further said: “It also did not make any sense to introduce the new system days before the start of procurement of wheat on April 10. Any move to introduce the new system would affect the procurement process also and cause extreme hardship to the farmers.”

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