Summit politics: Badal promises better show than son Sukhbir

Mohali (IANS): A war memorial near this Punjab town is out to become a battleground of a different kind. An event to be hosted at the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur War Memorial complex in Chappar Chiri village is a father’s challenge to his political heir apparent.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is sparing no efforts to ensure that the first Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit (PPAS), which he claims is going to be the country’s biggest agriculture event, is bigger and better than the Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit organised by his son and Deputy Chief Minister in December.

The PPAS summit is to be held during Feb 16-19.

While Sukhbir was able to line up some of the biggest names from industry for the December summit and even got assurances of investment of around Rs.65,000 crore, his father wants to put up a bigger show of a different kind.

At the last summit itself the chief minister had declared that his agri-summit would be bigger than Sukhbir’s. The senior Badal is expecting over 50,000 farmers from Punjab to converge at the agri-summit. Another 5,000 farmers will come from other states.

There will also be chief ministers from various states, experts, agri-scientists and economists from 10 countries — Canada, Pakistan, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, the US, Israel, Italy and New Zealand. A leading consultancy and the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry have been roped in.

Farmers from West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have confirmed their participation,” said Badal, 86, who has been personally monitoring preparations for the summit.

“The goal is to evolve a national policy on agriculture. Despite being the mainstay of the country, agriculture has not got its due in recent decades. Punjab has been at the forefront of progress in agriculture,” he said.

“It would be a mega technology event to facilitate the transformation of agriculture for the benefit of farmers, to be attended by all stakeholders ranging from farmers to food processors,” the chief minister said.

Over 800 officers and employees of six departments of the Punjab government have been working for over a month to put the agri-summit together in an area of 130 acres.

The event will have four huge exhibition hangers displaying latest farm machinery, agriculture equipment and implements.

Nearly 400 stalls will display drip irrigation, houses, livestock, machinery and inputs for the farm sector.

“Three famers from each district of Punjab and three farmers from each state will be honoured with a cash reward of Rs.51,000 each and memento in recognition of their contribution to agriculture,” a senior officer told IANS.

Over 50 experts and scientists in agriculture and animal husbandry would also be honoured. Heads and representatives of 13 national institutions related to the agriculture field would also take part in the summit.