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Akalis quit NDA, say Centre ignored farmers’ sentiments

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal is with senior party leaders Prem Singh Chandumajra (centre), Surjit Singh Rakhra (third left), and supporters during a meeting at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib in Patiala on September 26, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP’s oldest alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on Saturday announced that it was ending its alliance with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as farmers’ protests continued across Punjab over the new farm sector Bills. 

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal announced the decision which, he said, was ‘unanimously’ taken at the party’s core committee meeting in Chandigarh.

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“The Central government completely ignored the sentiments of farmers and pushed the agriculture sector Bills with force. What happened in Rajya Sabha... everybody knows that... Although we were part of the government, Harsimrat Kaur Badal quit from the post of Minister in protest against the Bills. I discussed the issue with people and leaders, and today we have decided to part ways with NDA,” he said. 

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

According to a party statement issued in Chandigarh, Mr. 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 as an official language in Jammu and Kashmir.

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The pressure to quit the NDA alliance had been mounting on the Akali Dal, following farmers’ protests over the Bills. The SAD initially supported the ordinances but later took a U-turn on the issue. Many senior party leaders had cautioned the party leadership over the possible backlash over the issue. 

Earlier, SAD’s lone representative in the Union Cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, quit the government against the Bills. Ms. Badal in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wrote, “In view of the decision of the Government of India to go ahead with the Bill on the issue of marketing of agricultural produce without addressing and removing the apprehensions of the farmers and the decision of my party, Shiromani Akali Dal, not to be a part of anything that goes against the interests of the farmers, I find it impossible to continue to perform my duties as a minister in the Union Council of Ministers.”

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The Opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party had been accusing the Akali Dal of misleading people on the agriculture Bills issue, and asked the party to part ways from the NDA, to prove their claims of standing shoulder to shoulder with the farmers. 

Party leaders, who were present at meeting included Prem Singh Chandumajra, Charanjit Singh Atwal, Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Daljit Singh Cheema, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Nirmal Singh Kahlon among others.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 6:37:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/shiromani-akali-dal-bjps-oldest-ally-leaves-nda-over-farm-bills/article32704939.ece

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