Punjab CM dares Akalis to quit NDA alliance; SAD hits back
Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday dared the SAD to quit the NDA at the Centre, a day after the party decided not to contest the Delhi assembly polls on being told by the BJP to change its stance over the amended Citizenship Act.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal hit back at the chief minister, asking him not to issue "ridiculous" statements which only exposed his "subservience" to the Gandhi family and his desire to make the "family happy to save" his chair.
The Punjab CM said Delhi was the second state after Haryana where the SAD had decided not to contest the assembly elections in alliance with the BJP.
"The Punjab chief minister on Tuesday challenged the Akalis to quit the alliance at the Centre to prove their sincerity with regard to the unconstitutional legislation which they were party to passing in both houses of Parliament," a statement issued here read.
The chief minister also asserted that the SAD's claim that they had decided against contesting the Delhi polls on account of differences over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was "preposterous and unacceptable". He said the decision was "motivated by political compulsions" as the SAD had realised that it had "no ground support" and could not win even a single seat.
"Or perhaps, the BJP was not ready to give them what they wanted in terms of seats, prompting them to look for a graceful way out of the situation," Amarinder Singh said.
He also asked the SAD to "walk the talk" and show people that they were against the "divisive and destructive" CAA. The lone Union minister of the party at the Centre should resign immediately in support of their stated stand on the controversial legislation that had evoked nationwide protests, Singh added.
He also questioned the SAD support to the legislation in Parliament.
"If you found the CAA to be anti-Muslim, why did you support the legislation in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha," the chief minister asked the SAD.
Responding to Amarinder Singh's challenge, the SAD chief asked him to clarify if he was opposed to giving relief to persecuted Sikhs under the CAA and whether he was fighting to get the entire Act rejected to end the relief given to Sikhs.
In a statement, Badal said by opposing CAA, the chief minister was opposing the relief given to Sikhs under the amended law.
Asking Singh not to "dance to the tunes of the Gandhi family alone" and also be sensitive about the need to give refuge to persecuted Sikhs as well as other minorities, Sukhbir Badal said the Akalis voted in favour of CAA to save the Sikhs.
"We however recorded our dissent, with me demanding that Muslims also be included in the new Act. We have stuck to our stand and have preferred to forsake contesting the Delhi assembly elections rather than give up our principled stand on this issue," he said.
Asserting that the SAD does not need any lessons from a "failed" chief minister on how to react to a situation, Badal said the SAD on its part would continue its struggle to get Muslims included under the ambit of CAA and would continue to use the offices of Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal for this purpose.
The Akali Dal had announced on Monday that it would not contest the Delhi polls next month after it was asked by the Bharatiya Janata Party to change its stand on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The SAD was of the view that Muslims cannot be left out of the CAA.
Taking a dig at SAD chief Sukhbir Badal and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal over their alleged "conflicting" statements on CAA, the Punjab chief minister said the Akalis did not have a "principled" stand on the major issue of national importance.