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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Cannot ignore farmers: SAD leaders

After Harsimrat resignation, Akalis face dilemma over alliance with BJP.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh | September 20, 2020 1:08:12 am
sad quits nda, sda ends alliance with nda, akali dal bjp alliance, sukhbir singh badal ends alliance with bjp, nda alliance sad, farm bills protest sad, harsimrat kaur badalIn this file photo, Harsimrat Kaur Badal (right) is seen sharing stage with her husband, Sukhbir Singh Badal (center), and Narendra Modi at a joint election rally. SAD was one of the oldest allies of the BJP.

Even as the Badals keep their cards close to the chest on the future of alliance with the BJP following Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s resignation on three controversial farm Bills passed in the Lok Sabha, one of the senior-most members of SAD core committee, Baldev Singh Mann, Saturday said the alliance had become untenable.

“My personal view is that this alliance can no longer be there. People will not accept us [SAD] in case we continue to have alliance with BJP, especially when all this has happened and Harsimrat Badal resigned from Union Cabinet on the issue,” Mann told The Indian Express over the phone. “How can alliance remain when BJP is riding roughshod over us to clear the controversial Bills?”

He added, “The final decision will be taken by the party and we will stand by that.”

Harsimrat, who resigned as Cabinet minister in protest against the Bills, and her husband and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who represents Ferozepur parliamentary constituency as MP, have rescheduled their visit to pay obeisance at Golden Temple from September 21 to September 23 as they announced their support to farmers who are up in arms and protesting against the Bills, voicing concerns among others that if implemented, the Bills would end the minimum support price (MSP) regime for farm produce. The Prime Minister and the Union Agriculture Minister, however, have given assurances that the reform Bills would be beneficial for the farmers and would have no bearing on the existing MSP regime. “The alliance seems to be untenable now. The Bills are aimed at making farmers slaves by weakening them financially,” he said.

SAD Kisan Wing secretary general Gurpartap Singh Wadala said Akali Dal was in a “dilemma” over the alliance as “farmers were against the BJP over farm Bills”.

“There have been reports that BJP is toying with the idea of contesting on its own and having a post-poll alliance,” said Wadala, adding that after SAD president Sukhbir Badal got in touch with party leaders on the issue recently, the majority of party leaders opined that alliance should continue.

“But now it is a dilemma for Akali Dal. Farmers are against BJP. Overall view now is that we have to decide according to sentiments of the farmers,” said Wadala.

Wadala added that the BJP-led government can delay the implementation of the Bills to save the alliance.

Senior Akali leader and SAD member in Rajya Sabha Balwinder Singh Bhunder said, “We have an alliance with BJP at national level but when it comes to our core contituency of farmers, we cannot afford to ignore their concerns.”

Bhunder said, “Right now I cannot comment on the future of alliance. It depends on BJP.”

Senior Akali leader Surjit Singh Rakhra, who is also party’s core commitee member, said, “We are farmers first then politicians. For the interests of the farmers, we would go to any extent, be it leaving the government or snapping alliance. We can sacrifice anything.”

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