A week after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) walked out of the Narendra Modi government, it has also decided to quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the three farm bills that it says are antithetical to the interests of farmers.
“The highest decision-making body of the Shiromani Akali Dal core committee at its emergency meeting here tonight decided unanimously to pull out of the BJP -led NDA alliance,” Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Chandigarh, calling the bills “lethal and disastrous” for its key voter base of farmers.
He 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 (Minimum Support Price) and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding Punjabi language as official language in Jammu and Kashmir.”
With this, the SAD became the third major NDA member to pull out of the grouping after the Shiv Sena and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Announcing her resignation on Twitter, she wrote: “I have resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister.”
Earlier that day, participating in the Lok Sabha debate on the farm bills, her husband and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the farm bills will “destroy” the 50 years of hard work done by successive Punjab governments to build the agriculture sector.
While opposing the bills, he said they will “sound death knell for 20 lakh farmers, 3 lakh ‘mandi’ labourers, 30 lakh khet mazdoor and 30,000 ‘arhatiyas’ besides destroying food grain procurement system established over 50 years” in Punjab.
Days later, when asked about whether the Akali Dal would continue being part of the NDA, Sukhbir Singh Badal said it would depend on the fate of the bills in the Rajya Sabha.