Opposing Centre’s contentious agri Acts, Rajya Sabha MP and chief of breakway faction of Shiromani Akali Dal, who earlier this year announced formation of Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Monday said he has no plans to return Padma Bhushan award conferred on him by the Narendra Modi government last year.
Dhindsa has been among those opposing three contentious farm Bills which have now become Acts after the Presidential nod.
Asked if he contemplated returning the award after registering his dissent to the farm Bills in Rajya Sabha, Dhindsa said, “What it has to do with this (my stance on Bills). I will take a call when there is any need. It has nothing to do with politics. Even (senior late Congress leader) Pranab Mukherjee was honoured (with Bharat Ratna). I only went once to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi when I was conferred (with Padma Bhushan). I never met any BJP leader afterwards.”
Asked if he could reunite with SAD on farm Bills issue, Dhindsa said, “Under the leadership of Sukhbir (Badal), we cannot be together. They did not object when Cabinet passed the ordinances. They also got it supported by (Parkash Singh) Badal Sahib.”
Dhindsa added that “farmers did not let Akali Dal join their protests…SAD announced chakka jam when farmers had already given a call for bandh. By giving a call when farmers had already announced bandh, the SAD only irritated the farm organisations. This was for the first time that farm organisations got together in such a way…In coming days, SAD led by Sukhbir will collapse like sand slips out of hand. People will see this. Even now, wherever Sukhbir goes, there are same set of persons who accompany him. This is just to show there is crowd. See closely in photos and you will realise there are same persons.”
On resignation of Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal as Union Cabinet minister, Dhindsa said, “Farmers had started agitating outside their home. They were neither able to come out or go outside. Resignation became a compulsion under these circumstances. And they thought that resignation will not be accepted. Ona das minute nahi laye resignation accept karan lageyan (The Modi government accepted the resignation within ten minutes).”
Dhindsa said, “We are opening party office in Mohali in the first week of next month where social media and other operations of the party would be started.”
Another veteran who went on to form SAD (Taksali) after breaking away with SAD, Ranjit Singh Brahampura said it was unlikely that he could return to party fold till Sukhbir Badal was the party president.
Blaming Sukhbir for worst ever performance of SAD in any Vidhan Sabha election in 2017 where SAD could win only 15 seats in the 117-member Vidhan Sabha, Brahampura said, “Sukhbir’s decisions had been childish which also eroded maryada (code of conduct) of Akal Takht and SGPC.”
Brahampura said that “doors in politics always remain open” but added he cannot return to the parent party till Sukhbir was there.
Brahampura hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on farm Acts, calling him a “dictator”.
“Intellectuals are criticising the [farm] Bills. Modi is resorting to seenazori (brute use of power). He is poisoning the minorities gradually…Sikhs sacrificed for the country..He has become a dictator,” he said.
On Harsimrat’s resignation as Cabinet minister, Brahampura said, “They should have objected when the cabinet passed the Ordinances. The resignation was given only after pressure built up.”
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