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.
The Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had earlier said that Akalis who initially supported the bills are reviewing ties with the 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.
As Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Mr Badal’s wife who 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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has defended the bills as reforms to help rid India’s vast agriculture sector of antiquated laws and allow farmers to sell to institutional buyers and big retailers such as Walmart.
The Akali Dal said they quit the alliance over the controversial Farm Bills. The party also mentioned that the Modi government is being stubborn and insensitive towards the issues of farmers Sikhs and Punjabis.
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 they saw thousands taking to the streets, blocking roads and railway tracks on Friday protest.