Headlines September 28, 2020
Key BJP ally quits national alliance over farm bills
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the oldest ally of the BJP, has decided to quit the ruling party’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after strong differences over the three controversial farm sector bills adopted earlier this month.
“The highest decision-making body of the Shiromani Akali Dal core committee at its emergency meeting here tonight decided unanimously to pull out of the BJP -led NDA alliance,” said Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal. He called the bills “lethal and disastrous” for farmers, who are the party’s key voter base.
Badal said that the decision to quit the NDA was taken “because of the Centre’s stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on MSP (Minimum Support Price) and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding Punjabi language as official language in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The SAD has become the third major NDA member to pull out of the grouping after the Shiv Sena and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
The party initially supported the bills until it realised the extent of unhappiness among farmers. Farmers fear the laws will end the price support system and drive the entry of private players. They fear private players will put small farmers out of business.
Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned as a union minister in protest last week as the bills were pushed through parliament amid a huge protest by the opposition.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the bills as reforms to help rid India’s vast agriculture sector of outdated laws and allow farmers to sell to institutional buyers and big retailers.
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