Farm bills face off: Akali Dal walks out of NDA

Farm bills face off: Akali Dal walks out of NDA

The highest decision making body of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) core committee at its emergency meeting held here on Saturday night unanimously decided to pull out of the BJP-led NDA alliance because of the Centre's stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect the assured marketing of farmers' crops at minimum support price (MSP), thus snapping a three-decade-old alliance with the saffron party.

"The government's decision on farm Bills is deeply injurious to the interests not only of the farmers, but also of the khet mazdoor (farm labourers), traders, arhtiyas and the Dalits who depend on the well-being of agriculture," a party statement said.

The meeting was presided over by SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal. The decision came at the end of the marathon meeting at the party headquarters here, lasting over three hours.

Later, addressing the media, Sukhbir Badal said that SAD would continue to stand by its core principles of peace and communal harmony and of guarding the interests of Punjab, Punjabis in general and the Sikhs and the farmers in particular. He said the decision has been taken after deep deliberations with the people of Punjab, especially the party workers and farmers, farm labourers, traders, arhtiyas and other poor sections of society.

Sukhbir Badal said that the Bills on agricultural marketing brought by the BJP government are 'lethal' and 'disastrous' for the already beleaguered farmers. "These are black laws and the SAD has resigned in protest against these (farm) Bills. It could not be a party to an government or alliance which stands opposed to the farmers, farm labourers, arhtiyas and other poor and toiling sections of the society," Sukhbir Badal said.

He said that even after quitting the Union government, SAD had hoped that the Centre would not press on with these "murderous assaults on the poor peasantry and other poor sections who depend on agriculture and trade. But it seems the BJP is totally out of touch with the ground realities".

Sukhbir Badal said that SAD was the oldest ally of the BJP but the government and the main driving principle behind the alliance was SAD's commitment to peace and communal harmony in Punjab and the restoration of pride and dignity of Punjabis in general, and Sikhs in particular.

But with the successive decisions, the present government has shown its callous insensitivity to minority sentiments, and has been indifferent to the imperatives of peace and communal haromny in the country, especially in Punjab. The SAD chief said that despite the best efforts, the BJP government did not listen to it on honouring the sentiments of the farmers.

He said the farmers are the backbone of the national economy and it is in national interest that the government should stand by them. "But the policies of the present government are running against vital national interests," he added.

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