Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday engaged in an ugly war of words with his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar on a micro-blogging website, Twitter, on the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation.
As Punjab Chief Minister accused the BJP-led Haryana Government of “provoking” the farmers and violating their rights by not allowing them to go to Delhi, Khattar reacted aggressively saying that it was Capt Amarinder who was “inciting” the farmers and that he should stop playing “cheap politics in the time of pandemic”.
As the reports of Haryana police using force and water cannons to stop Punjab farmers from entering Haryana went viral, Capt Amarinder took to Twitter to point, “For nearly 2 months, farmers have been protesting peacefully in Punjab without any problem. Why is Haryana govt provoking them by resorting to force? Don't the farmers have the right to pass peacefully through a public highway?”
In a series of tweets, Capt Amarinder said that it was a “sad irony” that the constitutional right of farmers was being violated on the Constitution Day. “Let them pass @mlkhattar ji, don’t push them to the brink. Let them take their voice to Delhi peacefully,” he tweeted.
At the same time, Capt Amarinder urged the BJP “to direct their state governments not to indulge in such strong-arm tactics against the farmers. The hands that feed the
nation deserve to be held, not pushed aside”.
In a sharp reaction, Khattar, in three back-to-back tweets, lashed out at Capt Amarinder, “I’ve said it earlier and I'm saying it again, I'll leave politics if there'll be any trouble on the MSP - therefore, please stop inciting innocent farmers.”
In related tweet, Khattar accused Capt Amarinder for not being serious and “running away from talks”. He tweeted, “I’ve been trying to reach out to you for the last 3 days but sadly you decided to stay unreachable - is this how serious you are for farmer's issues? You're only tweeting and running away from talks, Why?”
“Time for your Lies, Deception and Propaganda is over - let the people see your real face. Please stop putting the lives of people in danger during the Corona pandemic. I urge you to not play with the lives of the people - atleast avoid cheap politics during the time of pandemic,” he said in another tweet.
Minutes later, Capt Amarinder hit back. “Shocked at your response @mlkhattar ji. It's the farmers who've to be convinced on MSP, not me. You should've tried to talk to them before their #DilliChalo. And if you think I’m inciting farmers then why are Haryana farmers also marching to Delhi?”
“As for endangering lives during #COVID19, have you forgotten that it was @BJP4India led central govt that pushed through those #FarmLaws amid the pandemic, uncaring about the impact they'd have on our farmers? Why didn't you speak out then @mlkhattar ji,” he said in a related tweet.
Rejecting Khattar’s charge that he was inciting farmers to protest, Capt Amarinder, in an officla statement, quipped as to why farmers from Haryana were also marching to Delhi in that case.
Also denying that he had been unreachable to Khattar, Capt Amarinder said that the Haryana Chief Minister had not made any attempt to get in touch with him. “Why would I not speak to him when I am speaking to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister regularly on the farmers’ issue,” he asked, adding that even today he had spoken to Amit Shah twice on the situation at the Punjab-Haryana border.
He said that he had told Shah that the Kisan leaders were not violent and the minor skirmishes that had taken place were a reaction to the Haryana Police actions.