Chandigarh, Feb 3 : Under fire from the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its silence over the issue, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday described the decision of the Union government to give direct income support of Rs 6000 per annum to every farmer as "a good beginning symbolizing the government's concern for the beleaguered peasantry in the country".
A meeting of the party's core committee, which was held here on Sunday and presided over by its President Sukhbir Singh Badal, however, appealed to the central government to hike the amount of support to Rs 12,000 per farmer annually.
The party also asked the government to extend the scheme to farm labourers in view of the hardships being faced by both segments.
The income support scheme has been announced in the union interim budget for farmers owning up to two hectares of land.
A SAD spokesman said that the party's core committee asked the Punjab government to fulfill its own moral obligations towards the Punjab farmers and give a matching amount equivalent to the amount given by the Centre as direct income support to every farmer as well farm labourer in the state.
He said that a delegation of the party MPs and senior leaders would meet the Union Finance Minister to urge him to increase the size of the direct income support for farmers and to extend the scheme to cover farm labourers also.
"The party hoped that its demand would be accommodated in the regular budget," he added.
The Congress and AAP had criticized the move of the central government saying that giving Rs 6,000 per year, or Rs 17 per day, was too less and a cruel joke with the farming community.