In a politically significant development, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday pulled out of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) citing “injustice to farmers, Sikhs, Punjab and Punjabi language” as reasons for snapping its 24-year-long ties with the Bhartiya Janata Party.
The decision was taken at a late-night emergency meeting of the party core committee, the apex decision-making body of the SAD, presided over by party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.
“The core committee decided unanimously to pull out of the BJP-led NDA alliance because of the Centre’s stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on MSP and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding the Punjabi language as official language in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a statement issued by SAD spokesperson Harcharan Singh Bains after a marathon party meeting lasting three hours.
The SAD, a long-time constituent of the NDA, 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.
In a statement, Badal said that the SAD will continue to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guard the interest of Punjab, Punjabi in general and Sikhs and farmers in particular.
He said the decision (to pull out of the NDA) has been taken in consultation with the people of Punjab, especially party workers and farmers.
Last week, SAD’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Sukhbir, had resigned as the Union minister of food processing in protest against the three farm Bills that were later passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament.
Badal said that the bills on agricultural marketing brought by the BJP 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 on honouring the sentiments of farmers.