July 16, 2021 5:36:35 am
Three months after announcing the deputy chief minister berth to a Dalit leader in the run up to 2022 Punjab assembly elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Thursday declared that if voted to power, it will appoint another deputy CM – from the Hindu community.
The announcement was made by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal at a press conference after party’s core committee meeting.
The move came amid reports Thursday that Congress high command was likely to appoint Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu as state party chief along with two working presidents, representing Dalit and Hindu communities. Around a fortnight ago, on July 1, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had held a luncheon meeting with several Hindu leaders.
“On the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar (on April 14), I had announced that a Dalit leader would be made the deputy chief minister (if SAD was voted to power). The SAD-BSP alliance thinks that everyone should have representation and should get importance (in the government). Today we held discussions. It was decided that in our government there would be two deputy CMs, first from a Dalit family and second from a Hindu family. Our mission is to unite religions to take Punjab forward. Like (former CM and Akali patron Parkash Singh) Badal always espoused to ensure peace and communal harmony, we will follow his footsteps,” said Sukhbir.
Last month, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had formed an alliance for the 2022 Punjab assembly polls.
He said the decision to have two deputy CMs was “in consonance with the liberal secular ethos of Sarbat da bhala (welfare of all) handed down to us through the rich heritage of the great Guru Sahiban”.
The SAD president also said they “understand that there are external forces which want to disturb the peace of Punjab by pitching communities against each other. We want to guarantee Punjabis that the SAD will continue to follow the policies of Parkash Singh Badal under which all religions were respected and honoured”.
He said Punjab had the highest population of Dalits vis a vis other states and it was felt that more efforts should be made to protect their interests. Earlier also it was the SAD which had always extended the maximum social welfare benefits to the Dalit community when in government, he said.
Sukhbir added, “We are committed to keeping all communities together and it is with this in mind that the SAD has decided to have a representative from the Hindu community as a deputy CM once it secures power in Punjab”.
Meanwhile, Sukhbir also announced that in the forthcoming session of the Parliament, the SAD would move an adjournment motion demanding the three agricultural laws be repealed. He appealed to all political parties to support the SAD in this endeavor by supporting the adjournment motion and even signing on it so that it could be taken up for discussion.
He said the SAD would continue to raise its voice for the farmers till all their grievances were not resolved.
Answering a query about a public whip issued by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the SAD president said “the entire country was aware that if any party had issued a whip to vote against the three black laws when they were presented in the Parliament it was the SAD”. He said, “Even then the farm organizations had made public appeals to political parties not to boycott parliamentary proceedings and instead vote against the black laws. Despite this the Congress and AAP boycotted the proceedings leaving it us to take a stand against the laws by voting against them.”
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