Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal focused on secularism and federalism while delivering his speech at Amritsar’s Teja Singh Samundri Hall, on the 99th foundation day of the party, after he was re-elected for the third time Saturday.
Speaking from the headquarters of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the former deputy chief minister said genuine federalism and secularism were the cornerstones of SAD.
The Ferozepur MP said that under which the rights of minorities should be safeguarded. He said it was with this in mind that he had earlier stated that Muslims should be brought under the purview of the Citizen Amendment Bill.
The party also passed a resolution to “rededicate itself to the setting up of a genuinely secular and federal India based on the principles of peace, communal harmony and equal rights and respect for all citizens, regardless of their religion, caste, creed , language, state or region.’.
“SAD stands for greater fiscal and political autonomy to all states as strong states mean a strong country,” said a resolution passed at the delegates’ session.
Badal said that from the first day when the party raised the demand for a federal state in 1962 to today, it was steadfast in its belief that more powers needed to be given to the states to charter their own course.
“India will develop if states will be given equal opportunity to grow and have more rights under federal structure. Now states can’t do anything. They don’t have resources. States are all dependent on Centre. The US is an example of federal structure. Every state in US has powers of finance. But here we have to seek permission from the Centre even to set up a power plant. It is an old agenda of SAD and now every political party is same,” said Badal.
He added, “The second biggest agenda is secularism. There was a debate on Citizenship Amendment Bill. I made it clear that secularism is our vision. Parkash Singh Badal used to celebrate holy days of all religions when he was CM. People of all religions had a sense of security. There would be no such example all over India where any CM like Parkash Singh Badal had showered crores of rupees on all religious places.”
“I also said that the Sikhs were religiously prosecuted in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Taliban had made it impossible for Sikhs to live in Afganistan. But I still insisted that the Muslim community must be mentioned in Citizenship Amendment Bill. Because the Preamble of this country is secular and this country is secular. We pray for ‘Sarbat Da Bhla’. We never said only ‘Sikhan da Bhla’,” said the SAD chief, and party workers responded with ‘Bole So Nihal’.
“Our Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificed his life for the other religion. Can there be any other such example of secularism? Secularism is our main principle. We believe in federalism. Minority protection must be there. Sikhs are majority in Punjab. But we never made feel minorities unsafe. I said in Parliament that there has been communal violence all over India but there is not a single such example in Punjab of communal violence,” said Sukhbir.
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