Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann branded the state farmers' strike as unwarranted and undesirable on Tuesday, but said he is open to talks. He also asked farmer organisations to join the Punjab government's fight against groundwater depletion. On Tuesday, Punjab farmers staged a demonstration along the Chandigarh-Mohali border after being prevented from travelling to the state capital to press the administration for a wheat crop bonus and the ability to plant paddy from June 10.
The government has urged farmers to delay paddy transplantation until June 18.
The CM emphasized that he is open to talking to farmers, but that meaningless slogans will not discourage him from preventing additional groundwater depletion.
"They have the democratic right to hold a dharna, but they should relate their stories," Mann said after returning from Delhi to reporters.
On Tuesday, the government met with farmers, according to Mann.
"They can come any time," Mann remarked when asked if farmers are adamant about meeting him. I had also started calling them earlier."
According to Mann, the staggered paddy seeding programme will not harm farmers' interests, but it can work as a spur for saving underground water.
"My father is a farmer. I understand how it may happen. What is the distinction between June 18 and 10," he asked.