The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the oldest allies of the BJP, on Saturday said it was quitting the ruling party's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after sharp differences over the three controversial farm sector bills adopted earlier this month.
Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had earlier said the Akalis – who initially supported the bills – are reviewing ties with ruling party, and had also requested President Ram Nath Kovind to “please stand by farmers” and not sign off on the laws.
The Akali Dal draws a large swathe of its voter base from farmers in Punjab who have vehemently opposed the new laws over fears of it ending the price support system (MSP) and the entry of private players who, they say, will put small and marginal farmers at risk.
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 outcry by the opposition and a contentious voice vote.
The government insists the new rules give farmers the option to sell their produce to private buyers while it would still purchase staples such as rice and wheat at guaranteed prices.
But such assurances have failed to mollify millions of farmers in Punjab and Haryana that saw thousands taking to the streets, blocking roads and railway tracks on Friday in a protest.
The decision to sever ties with the NDA was announced here by party President and MP Sukhbir Badal after the party’s core committee meeting late on Saturday night.
Without taking any questions from the media, Sukhbir Badal said Akali Dal’s alliance with the BJP ended, taking the interest of the farmers into consideration. (IANS)