The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday announced it would boycott the President’s address to Parliament “to protest against the adamant manner in which the Central government was bent on implementing the three hated Agricultural Acts” even as it thanked like-minded parties for showing solidarity with the SAD in boycotting Friday’s joint session.
Senior party leaders, including MPs Balwinder Singh Bhundur and Naresh Gujral as well as senior party leader and former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, said “the SAD is a party of farmers. We have always stood up for the cause of the farming community. In the present situation when the Central government is unmoved by the suffering of the community which has been agitating since months against the Agri Acts, we feel there is no responsibility on our part to attend the President’s address and hence we are boycotting the same”.
Describing the agri laws as the “biggest present day danger”, the Akali leaders said “the tallest leaders of the region be it Choudhary Chhotu Ram, Choudhary Charan Singh or Parkash Singh Badal have always stood for the cause of the peasantry”. They asserted that the SAD would not only continue to support the Kisan Andolan but would also strive to ensure it was victorious.
Chandumajra said the SAD and its president Sukhbir Singh Badal had been in contact with senior leaders from like-minded regional parties. “We have reached out to the Trinamool Congress, DMK and the Shiv Sena besides others. We all feel that the agri laws which were bulldozed through Parliament in the last session are not only unconstitutional but also anti-people. We also feel that the Central government is encroaching upon the powers of the states by legislating on an issue which was a state subject,” he added.
Chandumajra also asserted that the ‘kesari nishan which was being subject to a defamation campaign was a symbol of pride and had always been so even before Independence. We want to make it clear that the Kisan Andolan is not a fight by any particular class of people or those belonging to any one religion but that of the people at large. We appeal to the Centre to recognise this truth and not adopt an arrogant and adamant attitude and repeal the three agricultural Acts immediately”.
Senior Akali leaders, including Bhundur and Gujral, also asserted that ‘the Centre should not spoil the peaceful atmosphere by resorting to high-handedness to suppress the Kisan Andolan”. They said instead of doing this, the Central government should resume talks with the farmer organisations and break the current deadlock.
Meanwhile, the leaders said “farmers had a right to engage in a peaceful march on the Republic Day and said that the unfortunate incidents which occurred were also the result of delay in giving permission as well as delay in deciding the route for the tractor rally. Whatever happened was very unfortunate but the government should order an impartial inquiry into the entire incident to ascertain as to who was responsible for the incidents”.
The Akali leaders also advised the Congress and the AAP to “play a constructive and mature role in the hour of crisis for the farming community and not indulge in cheap blame game politics”.
SAD (Democratic) president and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also announced to boycott President’s address.