Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh – locked in a bitter feud with Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal over the farmers’ protest – lashed out Monday, labelling the AAP leader a “coward” and accusing him of “sell(ing) your soul if it serves your purpose”. He alleged the “pathetic” AAP had notified one of the centre’s farm laws because it had to go “groveling” for help to handle the Covid crisis in the national capital.
“Every Punjabi knows I am not one to be cowed down by any amount of false cases… they also know you will sell your soul if it serves your purpose. The whole world has seen how you sold off farmers’ interests by notifying one of the black laws. Why did you do that?” Mr Singh asked.
“What pressure did the centre have on you? Or is it so you can go groveling back to them again the next time your pathetic government is floundering to handle the Covid crisis?” he added.
Arvind Kejriwal hit back, declaring that the farm laws were his Punjab counterpart’s “gift to the nation”.
“U were part of the committee which drafted these Bills. These Bills are YOUR “gift” to the nation. Captain sahib, why do BJP leaders never accuse u of double standards the way they accuse all other leaders?” the Delhi Chief Minister tweeted.
U were part of the committee which drafted these Bills. These Bills are YOUR “gift” to the nation.
Captain sahib, why do BJP leaders never accuse u of double standards the way they accuse all other leaders? https://t.co/dGxeYksrVY
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 14, 2020
Mr Singh, who has previously called Mr Kejriwal a “liar” and a “slimy fellow”, also dug out a 2018 incident – when the Delhi Chief Minister apologised to the Akali Dal’s Bikram Mathija for calling him a “drug lord” – and said Punjab had seen him “cringing in fear in the face of a minor defamation case”.
The Punjab Chief Minister declared that unlike Mr Kejriwal, whose AAP is one of the main opposition parties in the state, he had “always done the right thing by his people”.
In his statement Mr Singh said “a coward who had run scared and apologised when cornered in a defamation case” would not be able to “save him(self) from the wrath of the farmers” or vote for his party in the next Assembly election.
The unseemly back-and-forth began after Amarinder Singh attacked Delhi’s ruling AAP for notifying one of the centre’s three controversial farm laws. The notification, reports said, took place November 23 – three days before farmers began marching on Delhi.
However, many have since said the report is untrue.
On Sunday Mr Kejriwal reiterated his support for the farmers and said he would join them in Monday’s one-day hunger strike. Last week he visited Singhu – on the Delhi-Haryana border, where large groups of farmers have set up camp – and said he had come as a “sevadar (volunteer)”.
Thousands of farmers are up in arms after the centre rushed three laws through parliament in September. The centre says the laws will help farmers get better income for their produce, while the farmers say it will rob them of MSP and leave them at the mercy of corporates.
Multiple rounds of talks between the centre and farmers have failed, with the latter insistent that the laws be scrapped and the centre only willing to amend the more problematic sections.