Ahead of PM's visit, Badal seeks economic & agricultural package

Ahead of PM's visit, Badal seeks economic & agricultural package


Chandigarh, Jan 4 (IANS) Five-time Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create the right atmosphere for his much-delayed visit to Punjab by first taking some concrete steps to expose the conspiracy behind the on-going incidents of sacrilege against Sikh faith and resolving the other major political, religious and economic issues facing the state. Badal in a statement here listed five major issues on which he said a prime ministerial package would lend credence and respectability to Modi's visit to Punjab on January 5. "As the PM, you would earn a lot of goodwill and my personal gratitude, if before coming here, you announce an economic, political, agricultural and territorial package to meet the demands of the Punjabis." The former CM also drew the PM's attention to thousands of Sikh families awaiting justice for the massacre of 1984. Badal said the PM's visit would then truly be a welcome gesture and would heal many past wounds inflicted by successive Congress governments. The Shiromani Akali Dal supremo said he was making this request on the eve of the PM's visit "just to remind him of his sacred obligations" to the country's food bowl and sword arm, Punjab. The elderly Badal also demanded a major agricultural economic package to pull the farmers out of the tragic crisis into which they have sunk as a result of agricultural indebtedness. He said the visit of the PM to the state was always welcome despite being too close to elections to sound genuine. "But it would be a great gesture if you go beyond optics and announce steps like an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to go into the conspiracy behind the painful series of sacrilegious incidents against Sikh faith and address other issues facing the people of the state." Badal asked the PM to heed the expectations of Punjabis on the resolution of their other long-standing major demands, including the transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi- speaking areas and the resolution of the river waters issue along Riparian principle. He also drew the attention of the PM to the loss of over 800 lives in the struggle against the three back laws on agriculture and said that these sacrifices must be acknowledged by concrete gestures by the Union government to help their families.

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