Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday expressed confidence that the Congress will win all the four assembly bypolls in Punjab and said it is the only party that can ensure the state's development.
Bypolls in Phagwara, Jalalabad, Dakha and Mukerian assembly seats will be held on October 21 and results will be declared on October 24.
The party is prepared to fight the bypolls and its campaign will revolve around the state government's progressive and welfare schemes, he told reporters at the inauguration of a two-day Kisan and Pashu Palan Mela here.
"The people of Punjab will once again put their seal of electoral approval on the Congress, which has proved itself in the last two and a half years of governance in the state. It's the only party equipped to ensure the development of Punjab," the chief minister asserted.
He said the people of the state will reject the regressive and divisive politics of opposition parties.
The bypolls are likely to witness a three-cornered fight among the AAP, the SAD-BJP combine and the ruling Congress which is looking to maintain its winning momentum in Punjab.
Responding to a question on service charges of $20 per head proposed by Pakistan for Kartarpur Corridor pilgrims, Singh said he has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get this "jaziya" abolished to ensure "Khulle Darshan Didar".
'Jaziya' was a tax imposed on non-Muslims in earlier times.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which is being constructed at a fast pace on the Indian side, aims to provide easy access to devotees of Sri Guru Nanak Dev and this Pakistan should respect, he said.
Earlier, the chief minister appealed to farmers not to resort to paddy stubble burning, as a mark of respect to the first Sikh Guru, whose 550th Prakash Purb will be celebrated in November.
Happy Seeding machines are being distributed by the Punjab government and these will not only help in stubble management but also ensure increased productivity for farmers, he added.
The theme of the Kisan Mela has been chosen from the sacred 'bani' of Guru Nanak Dev's 'Pawan Guru pani pita mata dharat mahatt', Singh said.
The burning of paddy stubble poses a major environmental threat, besides damaging the texture of soil and human health, the chief minister cautioned.
He called upon farmers to take full advantage of subsidised straw management machinery. These are being provided at 50-80 per cent subsidy.
The state government has provided 28,600 implements worth Rs 269.38 crore to farmers during 2018-19 and an amount of Rs 273.80 crore would be incurred for about 28,000 implements for the management of paddy straw during the current 2019-20 fiscal, Singh said.
He also announced that the state government will develop a sugarcane research and training institute at Gurdaspur, besides establishing an agricultural market innovation research and intelligence centre at Mohali.
The centre will provide necessary support and assistance to farmers in marketing their diversified crops, the chief minister said.
Addressing farmers gathered at the Mela at the Punjab Agriculture University, Singh stressed on the need to switch to crop diversification to conserve depleting ground water.
The state has already developed a diversification plan to shift nearly 10 lakh hectares from rice to alternative, less water intensive crops, he said.
Listing the initiatives for crop diversification, Singh said a state-of-the-art Indian Institute of Maize Research was being set up at Ladhowal, while a Postgraduate Institute of Horticulture Research & Education was coming up at Amritsar.