Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP’s oldest ally pulls out of NDA on Farm Bills

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(Online Desk)

After being together for 23-long years, the oldest ally of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) announced to leave over the newly passed Farm Bill.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in 1969 was allied with the then Bharatiya Jana Sangh for the first time during the assembly elections and formed a coalition with the BJP in 1997.

It later joined the saffron party lead coalition in 1998 and had been with it since then.

The decision to this effect was taken on Saturday at the party’s emergency core committee meeting which lasted for three hours. The party unanimously decided to pull out of the BJP-led NDA alliance because of the centre ‘stubborn’ refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmer crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP) and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding the Punjabi language as an official language in Jammu and Kashmir.

”The government’s decision on Farm Bills is deeply injurious to the interests not only of the farmers but also of Khet mazdoor, traders, arhtiyas and the Dalits who depend on the well being of agriculture,” said SAD-chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The SAD is the third ally to break the alliance with NDA since the coalition came to power in 2014.

Shiv Sena broke withdrew from the alliance in 2019 after the Maharashtra assembly election, as it accused BJP of breaking its promise of giving equal division of power to the party in the state.

In 2018, the Telugu Desam Party ended its four-year alliance with the BJP over denial of special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

SAD-chief added that the party will continue to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and of guarding the interests of Punjab, Punjabi and Sikhs, farmers in particular.

He said that the decision has been taken after deep deliberations with the people of Punjab. especially party workers and farmers, farm labour, traders, arhtiyas and other poor sections of society.

Badal said that the bills on agricultural marketing brought by the BJP government are ‘lethal’ and ‘disastrous’ for the already beleaguered farmers.

“These are Black Laws and the SAD had resigned in protest against these Bills. It could not be a party to a government or alliance which stands opposed to the farmers, farm labourers, arhtiyas and other poorer and toiling sections of society.”

He said that even after quitting the union government, SAD had hoped that the centre would not press on with these  ‘murderous’ assaults on the poor peasantry and other poor sections who depend on agriculture and trade.

But it seems the BJP is totally out of touch with ground realities.

“The successive decisions taken by the present government has shown its callous insensitivity to minority sentiments and been indifferent to the imperatives of peace and communal harmony in the country, especially in Punjab,” Sukhbir said.

He further added that despite our best efforts, the BJP government did not listen to it on honouring farmer’s sentiments.

He said that the farmers are the backbone of the national economy and it is in the national interest that the government should stand by them. But the policies of the present government are running against vital national interests.

Former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said the SAD was forced to first leave the Union Cabinet and now the NDA as the BJP-led alliance was obstinate and stubborn over bringing the farm legislations despite protests by farmers opposition.

Sukhbir leads the Akali protest in Punjab as a few days back his wife and union minister Harshimrat Kaur Badal has resigned from the union cabinet over the passing of the ordinances in the parliament.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh termed the Akali’s decision to quit NDA as nothing more than a ”desperate case of political compulsion for the Badals, who were effectively left with no other option after the BJP’s public criticism of the SAD over the Farm Bills.”

Referring to his earlier statement, in which he had pointed out that the NDA would throw the Akalis out if the latter did not leave gracefully, Amarinder said there was no moral high ground involved in this decision of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The Akalis had no choice before them, since the BJP  had already made it clear that it held SAD responsible for failing to convince the farmers about the goodness of the Agriculture Bills.

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