As SAD quits NDA, BJP looks to increase its electoral and social base3 min read . Updated: 28 Sep 2020, 06:31 AM IST
The end of the alliance presents the party with the opportunity to directly reach out to farmers, say BJP leaders
The decision of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to walk out of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is likely to give the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an opportunity to expand its base both socially and electorally in Punjab.
On Saturday, the SAD announced its decision to quit the NDA, ending a nearly three-decade-long alliance, 10 days after its senior leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal stepped down as a Union minister to protest against the recently passed farm bills.
Senior BJP leaders said the party has the unique opportunity to directly reach out to farmers despite all political parties standing together, including the Congress, which is in power in Punjab.
BJP leaders also argued that it is after almost three decades that the party will be able to build its own social and electoral base in the state.
SAD joined the NDA in 1996 when BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the prime minister during the alliance’s first government at the Centre, which lasted 13 days.
“We believe the agricultural reforms undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would benefit small farmers the most. SAD leaders are not working for the benefit of farmers and are only strengthening the Opposition against the BJP," said a senior party leader and parliamentarian.
“The Shiromani Akali Dal core committee decides unanimously to pull out of the BJP-led NDA because of the Centre’s stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of crops on the minimum support price (MSP) and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues," tweeted the SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal late on Saturday night.
SAD leaders have also decided to formally join the protests against the farm bills. The party has decided to protest in all the regions of Punjab on 1 October and meet governor V.P. Singh Badnore the same day. Senior party leaders said the decision to oppose the farm bills was taken after deliberations with the core committee.
The Union government is not reaching out to farmers despite protests in Punjab and Haryana, which could gather momentum in the coming days, senior party leaders said.
“If pain and protests of three crore Punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI, it’s no longer the #NDA envisioned by Vajpayee ji and Badal sahab. An alliance that turns a deaf ear to its oldest ally and a blind eye to pleas of those who feed the nation is no longer in the interest of Punjab," Harsimrat Kaur Badal also tweeted on Saturday.
In the last 10 months, the BJP has lost two of its oldest alliance partners, SAD and Shiv Sena, and the only big political party which is in alliance with BJP across north India is the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) under Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
“Shiv Sena appreciates Akali Dal’s decision to break its ties with NDA in the interest of farmers. Shiv Sena and SAD were the pillars of NDA but now Akali Dal is out of NDA. NDA has new partners. I don’t think the alliance without Akali Dal and Shiv Sena can be called NDA," said senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
SAD leaders also expressed solidarity with the farmers and extended support to all initiatives, agitation or lockdowns announced by farmers in the coming days, regardless of which organization or party starts it.
“Punjabis must remain aware of some parties’ conspiracies to divide the farmers’ movement. Akali Dal is not just a political party but a movement for justice to all downtrodden people, especially those belonging to the farming community. Every Akali is a farmer and every farmer is an Akali at heart so farmer families have always taken pride in being associated with it," tweeted Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD president and Ferozpur member of the Lok Sabha.