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Akali Dal quits BJP-led NDA over farm bills

Move comes after the Sukhbir Singh Badal-led party requested the President to 'stand by farmers'
Sukhbir Singh Badal

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   Chandigarh   |   Published 26.09.20, 11:09 PM

The Shiromani Akali Dal has quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after differences over the controversial farm bills, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal announced late on Saturday.

Badal made the announcement after a core committee meeting of the party in Chandigarh.

The highest decision-making body of the SAD at its emergency meeting decided unanimously to pull out of the NDA, he said.

According to a party statement, he 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.

The SAD had also requested President Ram Nath Kovind to “please stand by farmers” and not to sign off on the laws, NDTV reported.

Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned as Union minister in protest over the bills. 

The SAD becomes the third major NDA ally to pull out of the alliance after the Shiv Sena and the TDP.

Badal said the SAD will continue to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guard the interests of Punjab and 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 the bills on agricultural marketing brought by the BJP-led government are 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 in honouring the sentiments of farmers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the bills, saying they will rid India’s agricultural sector of antiquated laws and allow farmers to sell to institutional buyers and retailers.

'Political compulsion'

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has described the Akali Dal's decision to quit the NDA as a case of "political compulsion" for the Badals, who were 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 the decision of the SAD.

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

The SAD's decision to quit the NDA was just the culmination of their saga of lies and deception, which eventually led to the party being cornered on the issue of farm bills, said the Punjab chief minister.

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.

The chief minister said with the BJP-led ruling coalition at the Centre exposing the SAD's web of lies, fabrications and doublespeak, the Akalis could not have done anything except leave the NDA.

But far from helping them save face, which they probably hoped to do, the Akalis will now find themselves in a bigger political mess, having been left with no place either in Punjab or at the Centre, he added.

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