Sukhbir accuses BJP of creating communal divide to torpedo farmers’ protest
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday accused the BJP, its former ally, of creating a communal divide to derail the farmers’ protest on the outskirts of Delhi.
“I’ve been told by our senior party leader in Delhi that the BJP has asked its cadre to name the farmers’ stir as Sikh vs Hindu and torpedo the struggle. While doing so, that party wants to create a rift between the communities. But we won’t let it succeed. Hindu-Sikh unity remained intact even during the bad days in Punjab and it will stay intact even now,” Sukhbir said while addressing a protest against the farm laws in Amritsar.
Accusing the BJP of pitting people from different faiths against each other to win elections, Sukhbir said: “It is making a similar attempt in Punjab now.”
Asserting that the BJP-led government had not only targeted federalism but also the freedom to protest, he said: “These farm bills will damage the farmers’ interest and benefit the corporates.”
Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who too addressed the protesters, had quit the Narendra Modi government in September, opposing the new farm laws aimed at liberalising the agriculture sector. Harsimrat was the only SAD representative in the Modi government. The SAD, one of the oldest BJP allies, has since backed the farmers’ agitation, demanding the three laws be repealed.
SYMBOLIC CEREMONY IN BACKDROP OF FARMERS’ STIR
Sukhbir addressed the gathering after attending the bhog ceremony of the akhand path at Akal Takht to mark the 100th foundation day of the SAD. Initially, the SAD had planned a three-day programme at Anandpur Sahib to mark its centenary but cancelled the programme, saying the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws would suffer if the event was held on a large scale. It decided to mark the occasion symbolically at the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, where the party’s foundation was laid in 1920.
Interacting with the media, the SAD chief said, “The party still stands by the Anandpur Sahib resolution that demands more powers for the states. This resolution was once dubbed as a separatist one, but today it’s become a necessity. Because of our stand, other states have started demanding that the federal structure be strengthened.”
He said that the party will reach out to families of Akali workers who made sacrifices for the Panth, Punjab and the country in 100 years and honour them.
AKAL TAKHT JATHEDAR GIVES EVENT A MISS
Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh skipped the event.
In his absence, Takht Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh presented the SAD president with a siropa (robe of honour), while former Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh looked on.
Giani Harpreet Singh, who sent his personal assistant Jaspal Singh to represent him, faced criticism from Sikh bodies for favouring the SAD while addressing the function organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to mark its 100th foundation day a month ago.