Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Saturday said that the National Democratic Alliance was no more the coalition envisioned by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Her remark came after the Akalis quit the BJP-led alliance amid differences over the recent farm bills.
“If the pain and protests of 3 crore Punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI [the government of India], it’s no longer the the NDA [National Democratic Alliance] envisioned by Vajpayee ji and Badal sahab [Parkash Singh Badal],” she said in a tweet. “An alliance that turns a deaf ear to its oldest ally and a blind eye to pleas of those who feed the nation is no longer in the interest of Pb [Punjab].”
The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the NDA late on Saturday. Harsimrat Kaur Badal had quit as Union minister on September 18, in protest against the bills.
Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal said the party quit the NDA because of the Centre’s “stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on minimum support price and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues”. Badal had earlier this week said that the party was reconsidering its ties with the BJP.
‘Desperate case of political compulsion,’ says CM Amarinder Singh
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit out at the Akalis for changing their stance on the contentious farm bills. Singh said that their decision to quit the NDA was nothing more than a “desperate case of political compulsion”.
“Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has termed the Akali decision to quit the NDA as nothing more than a desperate case of political compulsion for the Badals, who were effectively left with no other option after the BJP’s public criticism of the SAD over the Farm Bills,” his office said in a statement.
Singh added that the Akalis will now face political troubles. “Sukhbir Singh Badal was caught between the devil and the deep sea after his initial unprincipled stand on the farm ordinances, followed by the sudden U-turn in the face of farmer protests,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV. “The Akalis will now find themselves in a bigger political mess now, having been left with no place either in Punjab or at the centre.”
The controversial legislations
Three controversial Bills on agriculture reforms are set to become law after being passed by the Rajya Sabha on September 20 in the middle of utter pandemonium. The three bills are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. The last one was also approved by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha on September 22.
Critics say that these new agricultural policies will lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations. Most Opposition parties have strongly opposed the bills. On Saturday, the Congress ran a social media campaign “Speak Up for Farmers”, in which its leaders criticised the government and posted videos showing their support for the farmers. Farmers have been vehemently protesting against the bills.