BJP’s oldest ally Shiromani Akali Dal quits NDA over farm bills
27 September, 2020 | Ojasvi Chauhan
Siromani Akali Dal leaders on Saturday night made a decision to quit BJP-led NDA over Centre's stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers' cro...
The highest decision-making body of the Akali Dal at a meeting on Saturday night decided unanimously to pull out of the BJP-led NDA because of the Centre’s stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers’ crops on minimum support price.
The meeting was presided over by Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal and the decision to quit the NDA came at the end of the meeting that went on for over three hours.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has termed the Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) decision to quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as nothing more than a desperate case of political compulsion for the Badals. The Chief Minister said the Badals were effectively left with no other option after the BJP’s public criticism of the SAD over the farm bills.
Amarinder Singh said there was “no moral high ground involved in this decision” of the SAD. “The Akalis had no choice before them, since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had already made it clear that it held SAD responsible for failing to convince the farmers about the goodness of the agriculture bills,” he said.
The SAD decision to quit NDA was just the “culmination of their saga of lies and deception”, which eventually led to their being cornered on the issue of the bills, said the Chief Minister, adding that Badal was virtually caught between the “devil and the deep sea” after his initial unprincipled stand on the farm ordinances, followed by the sudden U-turn in the face of farmer protests.
He added that the Akalis would now find themselves in a bigger political mess, having been left with no place either in Punjab or at the Centre. Addressing the media on Friday regarding the decision to quit NDA, the SAD chief said that the party will continue to stand by its core principles of “peace, communal harmony and guarding the interest of Punjab, Punjabis in general and Sikhs and farmers in particular”.
He said the decision has been taken in consultation with the people of Punjab, especially party workers and farmers. Badal said that the bills on agricultural marketing brought by the BJP-led government were “lethal and disastrous” for the already beleaguered farmers. He said the SAD was the oldest ally of the BJP but the government “did not listen to it on honouring the sentiments of farmers”.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were passed by Parliament on Sunday. A third bill relating to amendment in the Essential Commodities Act has also been passed by Parliament.
The Centre has said that the bills provide farmers the freedom to sell their produce everywhere. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had quit from the union cabinet as Food Processing Minister over the agriculture bills.