Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal on Sunday announced the setting up of “a high powered committee” comprising senior leaders of his party to coordinate with regional and other like-minded parties in the country to “ensure the setting up of a genuinely federal structure”.
The decision was taken at the party’s core committee meeting held here Sunday, said a press release.
SAD’s principal advisor Harcharan Singh Bains said that the high-powered panel would be chaired by the party’s secretary general Balwinder Singh Bhunder and include former Lok Sabha MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjidner Singh Sirsa and Rajya Sabha member Naresh Gujral.
“The panel will coordinate with leaders of other regional parties as well as those who have been consistently advocating more fiscal and political autonomy to the states,” said the SAD release, adding that Sukhbir told the core committee that “the need of strengthening the federal structure of the country has become more pronounced in the wake of threats being posed to it in recent times”.
He said, “SAD has always been at the forefront of the fight against authoritarian and unitarist tendencies in the country.”
“We are a country with a rich regional, cultural, religious and lingual diversity and our strength lies in realising the full potential of the creative synergy of cooperative federalism as envisioned by founding fathers of our Constitution. More powers to the states will only strengthen the country further and help it emerge as a global power as stronger states mean a stronger country just as stronger limbs mean a stronger body,” said Sukhbir.
The party on Sunday urged the Centre to immediately convene a joint meeting of all stakeholders in the ongoing farmers struggle including representatives of farmers, farm labourers, shopkeepers and all political parties to resolve the crisis arising out of controversial laws.
The SAD core committee also decided set up a three-member committee to “coordinate with farmers organisations and others on the future course of action and strategy on getting the farmers’ demands fulfilled”.
Bhunder, Chandumajra and Akali leader Sikandar Singh Maluka were named as members of this committee. “Farmers struggle is a joint struggle of all Punjabis and it affects the future of state’s and country’s economies. What is required is unity in this struggle. That is why the party has set up a coordination committee to ensure a coordinated response of all stakeholders to the challenge posed by the government’s decisions,” Bains said, adding that Sukhbir had “already offered unconditional support to farmers”.
“The core committee demanded repealing of the three Acts passed recently on the marketing of farmers’ produce and said there should be mandatory provisions for constitutional guarantees for continuance of official procurement of farmers’ produce at Minimum Support Price (MSP). The core committee thanked and congratulated Punjabis, farmers and SAD workers for the success of the ‘Kisan March’ organised by the party on October 1, and strongly condemned the police repression against peaceful agitators at the end of the march,” read the SAD press release.
“In a resolution, the core committee emphasised the need to safeguard peace and communal harmony in the state as top priority. SAD is ready for supreme sacrifices to defeat any conspiracy to disturb peace in Punjab. No one should be and will be allowed to disturb the hard-earned atmosphere of peace and communal harmony in the state,” added the release.
The party however strongly condemned “efforts by state Congress leaders and others to vilify the farmers campaign” as “hooliganism”.
“In another resolution, the core committee demanded the immediate sacking of Punjab Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot for perpetrating an unprecedented scam of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds belonging to students from Schedule Castes,” said the release.
“The core committee strongly condemned the shocking tragedy at Hathras and described it as an outrage against humanity and disgrace to the spirit of our nation. The guilty must be given exemplary punishment at the earliest,” it further said.
“SAD core committee also strongly condemned the step motherly treatment meted out to the Punjab language in Jammu & Kashmir, which had once formed a part of the Khalsa Raj. The cultural, literary and lingual bonds between Punjab and J&K have strong and unshakeable foundations and the decision of the government to leave Punjabi out of the official languages list is a gross injustice to the sacred language,” the release said.
“SAD president Sukhbir Badal has formed a special committee to fight for getting official language status for the Punjabi language in J&K and for the promotion of Punjabi language, literature and culture in J&K as well as other parts of the country with sizeable Punjabi population. The committee comprises of Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Majinder Singh Sirsa,” it added.
Stop cheap tamasha: SAD to Rahul
Stating that “farmers of Punjab would never forgive Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for striking a deal to sell off the interests of farmers by facilitating the passage of the agriculture Acts”, senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra asked Rahul to “stop cheap tamashas and direct his party’s government in Punjab to fulfill the promises made to the annadaata”.
Chandumajra said, “You Rahul Gandhi did not only run away from the country when the agriculture Bills were to be tabled in Parliament in the most cowardly manner but also facilitated their passage by refusing to issue a whip to your MPs to vote against them and even preventing senior leaders from speaking against the Bills in Parliament. But for your cowardice the Bills could have been stopped, but you chose to help the BJP government rather than standing with the farmers of the country.”
Stating that “Rahul had now been brought to Punjab to stage a sham protest after the Congress realised that the farmers would now turn against it”, Chandumajra asked the Congress leader “why he had refused to answer even one of the five questions posed to him by Sukhbir Badal”.
Questioning the “timing” of Rahul’s visit, the SAD leader said it was “strange that Rahul Gandhi had remembered Punjab and its farmers after a spate of years only because his party was in doldrums with only a little over a year left before the polls”.
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