‘SAD forced to take the decision after farmers’ protests against agriculture Bills’
With Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) quitting from government in protest over the agriculture sector Bills, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said Ms. Badal’s decision to quit the Union Cabinet was another in the long chain of theatrics being enacted by the Akali Dal.
Questioning SAD’s decision to continue to remain a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition at the centre, the Chief Minister said even Ms. Harsimrat’s resignation was nothing more than a gimmick to fool the farmers of Punjab. “But they [the Akalis] will not succeed in misleading farmer organisations,” he said, calling the resignation a case of “too little, too late”.
Ms. Harsimrat’s resignation from the Union Cabinet had come too late to be of any help to Punjab and its farmers, said the Chief Minister. “Had SAD taken a stand earlier and supported the [State] government against the ordinances, the situation might not even have come to such a pass, and the Centre might have thought 10 times before introducing the Ordinances and pushing the anti-farmer legislations in Parliament,” he added.
Even now, the only reason for the SAD’s decision to pull their sole Minister out of the Union Cabinet was motivated not by any concern for farmers but to save their political fortunes, and “the fizzling political careers of the Badals”, Mr. Singh said.
Leader of the Opposition and Aam Aadmi Party MLA Harpal Cheema said Ms. Harsimrat’s resignation was a victory for Punjab’s farmers. “SAD has been forced to take this decision after watching farmers’ protests against the Bills across the State. Farmers’ anguish has forced the party to take a U-turn on the issue. The greed of the Badal family for power at the Centre has been exposed. They were left with no choice but to oppose the Bills to protect their vote bank,” said Mr. Harpal Cheema.
“SAD should now walk -out of the NDA,” he added.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said “They [SAD] were trying to ride two horses, but ended up losing not only their face, also lost the Cabinet birth in the Central government, which they were trying to retain,” he said.
Senior SAD leader and former minister Daljeet Singh Cheema said that for the Akali Dal, the interest of the farmer community was foremost. “We had already conveyed it to the government that until apprehensions of farmers were addressed, the enactment of Ordinances/Bills should be taken forward and be deferred. Without taking farmers into confidence, no final decision should be taken. We are with the farmers, and hence Ms. Badal has quit,” said Mr. Daljeet Cheema.