Chandigarh A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), under the leadership of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter’s New Delhi residence on Friday morning to express gratitude for the Union government’s ‘unprecedented and decisive’ initiative in exempting langar items from the GST regime. The delegation expressed appreciation for the fact that ‘the decision on exemption on all purchases for Guru ka Langar for all Gurdwara Sahibaan throughout the country was a first-ever initiative of its kind by the Government of India since independence’. The Prime Minister, the SAD later said, also expressed ‘profound appreciation’ of the fact that it was the oldest and the most dependable ally of the BJP in the country. “This is the oldest, the most durable and time-tested alliance and the BJP values it. The alliance signifies the social and political consensus in Punjab and elsewhere and is a symbol of peace and communal harmony throughout the country, especially in Punjab,” a SAD press release quoted the PM as saying. Apart from Sukhbir, the delegation comprised Sukhdev Sigh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Manjinder Singh Sirsa. SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Manjit Singh GK were also part of the delegation. The delegation thanked Modi for the decision of the Union government to release ₹800 crore for cane growers of Punjab, of a total of ₹8,000 crore for the country. The party also urged the PM to expedite the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission Report by which the farmers would be ensured of a profit margin of 50% over and above the costs incurred. The delegation asked the Prime Minister to set up a National Committee under his own chairmanship to ensure the 550th Parkash Utsav of Guru Nanak in 2019 is celebrated as a major national and global event. “The Prime Minister’s response was very positive,” the SAD release claimed.