Shiromani Akali Dal supported NDA nominee Jagdeep Dhankhar in the vice-presidential elections on Saturday.
This is the second time in less than a month the NDA had found its erstwhile partner in its corner. In July, SAD had supported the NDA presidential candidate, Droupadi Murmu.
The voting for presidential elections took place on July 18.
In 2020, SAD had pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against the now-repealed new agriculture laws.
The MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are eligible for voting in the vice-presidential elections. SAD has two members in the Lower House – party chief Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
Sukhbir said in a tweet, “Shiromani Akali Dal supports a peasant’s son, crusader for farmers’ rights and the man who secured OBC status for the farming community (Jats) in his state, Jagdeep Dhankhar for the Vice Presidency.” In another tweet, he said, “Shiromani Akali Dal is happy that in both Presidential and Vice Presidential polls, we have supported the candidates who have stood by the downtrodden and the farmers.” In a tweet, Bathinda MP Harsimrat addressed BJP veteran Rajnath Singh as farmers’ friend. “Voted for farmer’s son and champion of peasants’ rights Jagdeep Dhankhar…led a successful fight for OBC status for Jaats in his state.”
In another tweet, she said, “When BJP chief JP Nadda and farmers’ friend Rajnath Singh called for support, Akali Dal welcomed a famers’ son being nominated for this august office. I hope Dhankhar ji as VP will help to resolve farmers’ issues.”
Interestingly, SAD MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali had boycotted the voting of presidential elections even though his party supported NDA’s nominee. Ayali said that he had nothing against Murmu, but he was not ready to support the BJP’s candidate, especially when the ruling party at the Centre had not resolved any Punjab-related issues.
Many SAD rebels had supported Ayali at that time. Even a meeting of Fatehgarh Sahib Akali Dal was held last week demanding a change in party leadership.
When asked about the stand of his party for the vice-presidential elections, Ayali said, “There’s no change in my stand on vice-presidential elections. MLAs are not eligible to vote, or else I would have boycotted again. This is because our issues of Sikh prisoners, Chandigarh, SYL, and Punjabi-speaking areas in neighbouring state remain as it is.”
Ayali said, “The issues remain the same, and hence my stand also remain the same. Based on the feedback taken from 100 constituencies of Punjab, a committee headed by SAD leader Iqbal Singh Jhundan had submitted a report to the party president demanding reforms. And unless these reforms are carried out, the party cannot be revived. We need to take some tough decisions.”
On July 29, SAD had dissolved its entire organisational structure. On August 1, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal while talking to reporters at Abohar had said that a disciplinary committee was being formed and anyone breaching the party discipline would be shown the door.
Ayali said, “I had a meeting with the party president in the past and I apprised him of many things that were not in Jhundan committee’s report. Feedback was given to him based on what we heard from the area.”
It may be noted that Ayali was also part of the Jhundan committee that went to 100 constituencies seeking feedback from people.
Meanwhile, Sukhbir Badal these days is seen active in the state instead of attending the Parliament session. He is the MP from Ferozepur. He had lost the Jalalabad seat to AAP’s Jagdeep Singh Goldy Kamboj in the Vidhan Sabha polls held in February this year.