The alliance between SAD and BJP, formed just after the parliamentary elections of 1996, had increasingly seemed untenable as the party was facing immense pressure from its main vote base, the farmers, to completely cut ties with BJP. The party was on the backfoot in Punjab, where spontaneous protests against the agri-marketing bills led by farmers had the party worried about its future, especially as both the ruling Congress party and the opposition Aam Aadmi Party were highlighting the Badal family’s so-called reluctance to quit the alliance with BJP.
SAD’s decision to pull out of the National Democratic Alliance was decided unanimously at an emergency meeting of its core committee, the party’s highest decision-making body. After the three-hour meeting, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party was BJP’s oldest ally but the Modi government did not listen to it on honouring the sentiments of farmers. He described the three agri-marketing bills as “lethal and disastrous for the already beleaguered farmers”. The party said it had quit the alliance in protest against the three agri-marketing bills and the Centre’s “stubborn” refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers’ crops at the MSP and for the Centre’s continued “insensitivity” towards the Punjabi language and issues of the Sikh community.
Shiromani Akali Dal core committee decides unanimously to pull out of the BJP-led #NDA because of the Centre’s stub… https://t.co/r92xKtDjQH
— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) 1601140927000
Promising to stand by its core principles of peace, communal harmony and guarding the interest of Punjab, Punjabi in general, and Sikhs and farmers in particular, Sukhbir said the decision was taken in consultation with the people of Punjab, especially party workers and farmers. In a direct attack on the BJP government at the Centre, Sukhbir said with successive decisions the central government had shown its “callous insensitivity” to minority sentiments and has been indifferent to peace and communal harmony in the country, especially in Punjab.
Even after quitting the Modi government, Sukhbir said the SAD had hoped that the Centre would not press on with these “murderous assaults” on farmers and other poor sections who depend on agriculture and trade. “It seems that BJP is totally out of touch with ground realities,” he said. Senior Akali leader Dr Daljit Cheema said the decision to snap ties was taken after much deliberation, adding that the three contentious bills were passed in an undemocratic manner and are being opposed in Punjab, Haryana and other states. “We had even requested President of India Ram Nath Kovind not to approve the bills passed by Parliament,” he said.
Criticising BJP for not paying heed to SAD’s repeated pleas not to force anti-farmer bills, SAD general secretary Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said there was no point in continuing in the alliance.
‘No alliance important before principles’
In Patiala on Saturday afternoon, Sukhbir Badal had indicated the possible snapping of ties with BJP just hours before the actual announcement when he said for his party no alliance was more important than principles. Claiming that his party was neither informed nor asked before passing the bills, he said SAD would not allow the end of the MSP regime.
“If Pain & Protests of 3 cr punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI, it’s no longer the #NDA envisioned by Vajpayee ji & Badal sahab. An alliance that turns a deaf ear to its oldest ally & a blind eye to pleas of those who feed the nation is no longer in the interest of Pb. (sic),” Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s tweet.
If Pain & Protests of 3 cr punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI, it’s no longer the #NDA envisioned by Vaj… https://t.co/KRsZsV6QMq
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) 1601141539000