Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday held a press conference to showcase Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to poll-bound Punjab “in the true spirit of cooperative federalism” and to farmers. He said Modi on Thursday sanctioned 41 oxygen plants for Punjab under the PM Cares Fund. He added the Centre earlier allocated 13 oxygen plants for the state and added some of them would be operational by the end of this month and the rest by August 15.Puri hit out at critics who have accused the Centre of denying the state its fair share of Covid-19 drugs. He said Punjab received 632 remdesivir doses per 100,000 people while Uttar Pradesh, which has a much larger population, 364. “This might not be an indicator as many states also procure the drugs themselves. But for anyone to suggest that they have been short-changed or denied the legitimate share is a falsification.”
He said Modi and the government have made it repeatedly clear that they were ready to sit and talk to the farmers, who have been protesting against three farm laws passed in September. “And I reiterate that. There are several commentators on this issue. I call them up individually and ask them to clear all residual doubts. We are open to all suggestions. But the template has to be to benefit farmers. The hard-working farmer is the primary beneficiary and has to be rewarded. Anything else can be discussed.”
Puri underlined it has been a year since the farm laws, which first triggered protests in Punjab, were promulgated as ordinances and none of their expected repercussions has come true.