Chandigarh, February 4: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday lambasted Akali chief Sukhbir Singh Badal for rubbing salt on the wounds of the farmers with his demand to double the ludicrous relief given to them by the Centre.

Lashing out at the former deputy chief minister over his ridiculous statement, Captain Amarinder Singh asked Sukhbir why he had not spoken up for the farmers all these years despite his Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) being a part of the ruling alliance at the Centre.

The central government had already made a mockery of the farmers by announcing a meagre Rs 6000 a year, which amounted to Rs 17 a day, to support them in their distress, said the Chief Minister, adding that the SAD president had added to the insult with his shameless demand. Did he really believe a thousand rupees a month would help the beleaguered farmers, many of whom were being driven to suicide as a result of their massive debts, running into lakhs of rupees in several cases, asked Captain Amarinder Singh.

Unlike the previous SAD-BJP government, which had failed to give even a penny to the distressed farmers during 10 years of their rule, his own government had already waived off over Rs 4514 crore of loans of 5.63 lakhs small and marginal farmers in the state, the Chief Minister pointed out. He said his government, in less than two years, had managed to provide some relief to every section of the society despite the massive financial crunch they had been left to cope with, he said, adding that his efforts to find a permanent solution to the farmers’ woes would continue.

The Badal clan, including Sukhbir, had not given an iota of thought to the welfare of the farmers all these years and were now shedding crocodile tears in a desperate bid to garner votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, said the Chief Minister. But the farmers would not be taken in by their fake concern, he warned, adding that the ruling coalition at the Centre had lost all confidence of the people, who were set to throw them out unceremoniously.

Captain Amarinder Singh asked Sukhbir to stop misleading the people of Punjab, particularly the suffering farming community, by pretending to be concerned about their problems. The people will not forgive you, he warned the Akali leader.

He said if the Centre was really interested in helping the farmers, it should announce a one-time waiver of their loans and ensure remunerative prices for their produce by implementing the Swaminanthan Committee report in toto. He said the anti-farmers mindset of the Modi government and its allies had been totally exposed.