Sarabjit Pandher

CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal will vote against the UPA government when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeks a vote of confidence in Parliament on July 22. The party cannot go along with any ruling dispensation in which the Congress is a constituent or has provided support, Punjab Chief Minister and patron of the Akali Dal Parkash Singh Badal told journalists here on Tuesday.

While ruling out the possibility of Akali MPs abstaining from voting, he said there was no need to issue a whip as the party stood united on the issue.

He denied that any senior leader had ever favoured going against a decision taken in the NDA, of which the Akali Dal is an important constituent. “We have selected our allies after thorough deliberations and we shall stand only by them.” Mr. Badal said the Akali Dal was historically opposed to the political programme of the Congress. “The issue before us is should the UPA government, which is responsible for an unprecedented price rise and more hardship for the common man, a government that has repeatedly discriminated against Punjab, be allowed to function any further.”

He said the Akali Dal could not vote for the UPA just because it was headed by a Sikh. “Personally, I place Dr. Manmohan Singh in high esteem. He is intelligent, decent, honest and a well-meaning person. But he is in the wrong party.”

Nobody had forgotten what the Congress had done to Punjab, especially the Sikh community, Mr. Badal said.

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