Gandhi will be aboard a tractor along with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and all Congress Ministers and MLAs in Punjab, including Navjot Singh Sidhu and PCC President Sunil Jakhar, with rallies totalling 50 kms over three days, Punjab Congress leaders told ET.
Gandhi will also attend public meetings at Nihal Singh Wala in Moga, the Grain Market in Samana, Ludhiana and Dudhan Sadhan in Patiala which is the CM’s home constituency. The Congress said it is expected that farmer organisations will support the tractor rallies, after the farmer groups had snubbed the Akali Dal and refused to allow SAD to join the farmer protests.
This comes after the Akali Dal led a protest rally to Chandigarh with over two lakh people and 40,000 vehicles from the three Sikh shrines of the state, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sri Damdama Sahib in Bathinda and Sri Anandpur Sahib. Farmer organisations also began an indefinite rail roko campaign in Punjab, paralysing the railway services.
A senior central government official told ET on the condition of anonymity that a close eye is being kept on the law and order situation in Punjab and the effort of various political parties to stoke trouble. The UT Administration of Chandigarh did not allow the SAD rally to enter the city limits. “The move by SAD to lead processions from the major religious shrines seems aimed at invoking religious passions which is avoidable in a border state like Punjab.
The Punjab CM had said he did not want any trouble in Punjab and peace to prevail but he has himself now announced leading the tractor rallies across the state. All this is coming amidst the Covid-19 pandemic with Punjab having the highest fatality rate in the country,” the central government functionary said.
No clear way has meanwhile emerged in Punjab on how to legally counter the new agriculture laws. There are conflicting signals as CM Amarinder Singh wants to go to Supreme Court to challenge the bills but the central Congress leadership thinks amending the state APMC law is the correct option as it sends a political signal that the party is with the farmers though the President could ultimately strike it down for running counter to the state laws.
The CM had earlier dismissed this option saying no amendment to state law can super-cede a central law and the same will be pointless but has now said he will consider that option too. Singh’s adversaries like Sukhbir Badal and Partap Singh Bajwa also suggested amending state law but the CM had earlier snubbed them on this count. The CM has now opened an e-mail ID for getting suggestions from legal experts to determine the way ahead.
Rahul’s tractor rallies in Punjab:
* Will cover more than 50 kms, spread over three days in various districts and constituencies
October 3: 22 kms, starting with a public meeting at Badni Kalan (Nihal Singh Wala, District Moga), to Jagraon (District Ludhiana) culminating in a public meeting at Jattpura (Raikot, District Ludhiana)
October 4: 20 kms, beginning from Sangrur to Samana, ending the day with a public meeting there
October 5: 10 kms, beginning from Dudhan Sadhan (District Patiala) with a public meeting, and the tractors will then travel 10 kms to Pehowa Border, from where Rahul will enter Haryana