SAD quits NDA over farm bills, says party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) announced late on Saturday it has pulled out of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition at the Centre over the passage of contentious farm bills passed in Parliament earlier this month.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, the SAD president, said after a marathon meeting of the party’s core committee, the top decision-making body, that all leaders were unanimous in deciding that they can longer be part of the NDA.
“Shiromani Akali Dal core committee decides 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 crops on #MSP and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and #Sikh issues,” Badal, whose party has been one of the oldest allies of the BJP, tweeted late in the night.
The SAD and the BJP had been allies since 1996 when both forged a pre-poll alliance ahead of the 1997 Punjab assembly elections which brought them to power.
The announcement came days after SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as the minister of food processing industries from the Union Cabinet to protest against the government pushing through the farm bills seeking to liberalise agricultural markets in Parliament. She had resigned on September 17.
However, while announcing the SAD’s decision to withdraw its only representative from the Narendra Modi Cabinet, Sukhbir Singh Badal had said the party will continue to support the government and the BJP but will oppose “anti-farmer policies”.
On Saturday, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the SAD will continue to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guard the interest of Punjab and Punjabi 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 sector 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.
The SAD is the third major NDA ally to pull out of the coalition after the Shiv Sena and the Telegu Desam Party (TDP).