File photo of SAD Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) oldest ally in Punjab and at the national level, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the Narendra Modi government’s controversial farm Bills. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal made this announcement after holding a core committee meeting of the party in Chandigarh late evening on Saturday.
The highest decision-making body of the SAD at its emergency meeting decided unanimously to pull out of the NDA alliance, he said.
With this, the SAD has become the third major NDA ally to pull out of the grouping. The other two are the Shiv Sena and the Telugu Desam Party.
The decision came days after Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the SAD’s only representative in the central government, resigned as Union food processing minister in protest against the farm Bills.
According to a party statement, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the decision to quit the NDA was taken because of the Centre's stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on MSP and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding Punjabi language as official language in Jammu and Kashmir.
Badal said the SAD would continue to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guard the interests of Punjab and Punjabi in general, and Sikhs and farmers in particular. He added that the decision had been taken in consultation with the people of Punjab, especially party workers and farmers.
He also said that the Bills on agricultural marketing brought by the BJP-led government were lethal and disastrous for the already beleaguered farmers.
The three farm bills -- the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 -- were passed by Parliament during the recent monsoon session. While the Congress and other Opposition parties are vehemently opposed against these Bills, farmers across states but particularly those in Punjab and Haryana are agitating by disrupting railway services, among other things.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Friday accused the Opposition of "misleading" farmers and "using their shoulders to fire" at his government over the farm Bills for selfish political interests, and asserted that for the first time in decades, the Centre had framed laws that would benefit farmers and workers.
Earlier this evening, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had taunted the SAD, saying “the adamant refusal of the Akalis to quit the NDA coalition showed the extent of their greed and desperation to cling to power”.