‘Party backtracked on contentious farm Bills due to fear of losing farmers’ votes’

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday accused the Shiromani Akali Dal of misleading people on the contentious agriculture Bills and asked the party to withdraw from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

“The Badals [Akali Dal leaders] should stop lying on such a critical issue and instead come out in the open to fight against the NDA by withdrawing from the alliance,” said the Chief Minister, adding that the party’s claims of standing shoulder to shoulder with farmers were hollow as long as they remained a part of the “anti-farmer” Central government.

Hitting out at Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal and former Union Minister Harsimrat Badal, Capt. Amarinder asked, “Did either of you even once call the ordinances anti-farmer till they were presented in the Lok Sabha? Also, did Harsimrat, even once, till her resignation, tell the farmers that she was trying to persuade the Central government to address their concerns – something she is now claiming?”

He said he was sure that the Akalis and the “Badals” could offer no reasonable explanation or answer to any of these questions. “The people of Punjab, especially the farmers, will not forgive them,” he added.

“The ordinances, which you [Akali Dal] had been supporting all through till you decided to back off under political compulsions out of fear of losing your farmer vote bank, were never discussed or even mentioned at the high-power meetings – a fact on which your coalition partners either deliberately kept you in the dark or which you chose to consciously ignore in your own petty interest,” he said.

“How could the Punjab government have concurred on something that never came up for discussion?” he asked, adding that unlike the Akali Dal, the Congress had maintained a consistent stand against the ordinances that the Centre had introduced amid the pandemic and then pushed through the Lok Sabha by “sheer brute majority”.

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