BJP's oldest ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Saturday, over the controversial farm bills that were recently passed in both the Houses of the Parliament amid protests by farmers across India and the Opposition.
"The highest decision-making body of the Shiromani Akali Dal, the core committee, at its emergency meeting here tonight, unanimously decided to pull out of the BJP-led NDA because of the central government's stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmer crop at the minimum support price (MSP), and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding the Punjabi language as the official language in Jammu and Kashmir," the SAD said in a statement.
SAD now becomes the third major party to walk out of the coalition led by the BJP. Chief of SAD, Sukhbir Singh Badal announced the decision of cutting ties with the NDA amid the ongoing protests in parts of Haryana and Punjab.
"The government's decision on the farm Bills is deeply injurious to the interests not only of farmers, but also the khet mazdoor (farm labour), traders, arthiyas (commission agents) and the Dalits who depend on the well-being of agriculture," Badal as quoted by The Indian Express.
SAD was the oldest ally of the BJP, and the main principle with which the party ran was a commitment to peace and communal harmony in Punjab and restoration of pride and dignity of Punjabis in general, and Sikhs in particular in the country, Badal added.
SAD's decision came a day after Punjab observed a bandh in protests against the farm legislations.
Speaking on the party's exit, Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma told the media that the party is an independent party and is free to take any decision. "BJP workers have been saying for a long time that it's time to break the alliance with Akali Dal. Now Akali Dal has announced it is breaking the alliance. We will hold a press conference on this issue.," he added.
In contradiction, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh called the decision as a desperate measure of political compulsion for the Badals, who were anyway left with no other option after the BJP's public criticism.