The bitter feud between the chief ministers of Punjab and Delhi reared its ugly head again Monday evening, with Amarinder Singh ridiculing Arvind Kejriwal for travelling to Singhu (on the Delhi-Haryana border) to meet farmers protesting the centre’s new farm laws.
Mr Singh, who on Friday called Mr Kejriwal a “slimy fellow who was in the habit of lying”, dismissed the visit as “theatrics” and asked if “you even know the difference between wheat and paddy”. The Punjab Chief Minister, who, in turn, has been accused of practicing “low-level politics”, also mocked Mr Kejriwal for calling himself a “sevadar (in service of)” in the farmers’ agitation.
“Kejriwal’s claim of being a sevadar is ludicrous. You (Mr Kejriwal) did not even bother to convene a session of the Delhi Vidhan Sabha on the issue (of a formal protest against the centre’s laws). The farmers have seen through your sneaky little ways and your theatrics will not help you,” he said.
Mr Singh challenged Mr Kejriwal to cite “one instance of anything (you have) done for farmers in Delhi, and referred to media reports last week that said the AAP had notified one of the farm laws.
“If Kejriwal thought the farmers’ demands valid, why did he not get amendment laws passed in Delhi, on the lines of Punjab and other states, to negate the centre’s laws?” he asked.
In October Congress-ruled Punjab became the first state to pass bills to counter the farm laws.
Accusing Mr Kejriwal of failing to stand with the farmers at the start of their protests – back in September -, Mr Singh said his counterpart was now staging “drama” with one eye on 2022 Punjab elections; the AAP is the largest opposition party in the state with 20 seats.
Mr Singh’s furious attack comes hours after Arvind Kejriwal and a few of his ministers visited Singhu, and reiterated Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) support for Tuesday’s “Bharat bandh“.
“I haven’t come here as Chief Minister but as sevadar. Farmers are in trouble… we should stand with them. AAP supports the ‘Bharat bandh‘ and party workers will participate,” he said.
Last week Mr Kejriwal said Mr Singh was angry with him because his government did not allow stadiums to be turned into open-air jails – as asked by Delhi Police – to hold thousands of protesting farmers.
Mr Singh hit back: “Kejriwal nu jhooth bolan di aadat hai… (Kejriwal has the habit of lying).”
Thousands of farmers have been camped out around Delhi for nearly two weeks now demanding the immediate recall of the farm laws. Five rounds of talks with the centre have failed to provide a breakthrough. A sixth is scheduled for Wednesday.
Tomorrow farmers and those sympathetic to their cause will hold a “Bharat bandh” that has been backed by several major opposition parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.