The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), one of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) oldest allies, has decided to leave the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over three contentious farm bills which were passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha amid ruckus.
Earlier on September 17, SAD's Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who was a Union Minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet--- and the only one from the Akali Dal -- had resigned in protest over the bills, which have triggered farmers' protest across the country, particularly in Punjab and Haryana.
"We cannot be a part of the NDA that brought these ordinances. We had been trying to attract the Centre's attention over issue related to farm bills and its impact. But we were ignored..." SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said.
"SAD has decided to pull out of BJP-led NDA alliance because of the centre’s stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on MSP and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues," the party said in a statement.
Also read: How Akali Dal was forced to quit the Union Cabinet over farm bills
In her resignation letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said the farmer and her party are 'synonymous' since SAD is "inspired by egalitarian vision of the founder of the Sikh faith, Shri Guru Nanak Dev who spent nearly 20 years working in his fields at Kartarpur Sahib as a humble farmer."
Badal, too, joined the protest and led a tractor while march while his wife Harsimrat sat beside him in Muktsar district.
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The Farmers' and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, had been passed by the Lok Sabha on September 17, amid a walkout by Opposition parties and the resignation of a union minister over their passage.
The three bills--- the Farmers' Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, and ''The Essential Commodities (Amendment)---seek to provide barrier-free trade for farmers’ produce outside notified farm mandis and empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players prior to production for sale of agri-produce.
However, protesting farmers claim that the move will 'corporatise' the agriculture sector and further cripple them financially.
The government claims that these initiatives will help farmers get better prices for their crops, by legalising contract farming, for instance.