The Shiromani Akali Dal, which put an end to ties with the Bhartiya Janata Party only days ago, is hoping to reclaim the massive vote-share which it lost in the past few years to parties like the Congress and AAP. And its approach to the same process is quite clear, as the party which claims to work for the benefit of the Sikh Panth takes to fearmongering the people of Punjab, particularly the farmers, over the three agricultural and farm-related legislative bills passed by the country’s parliament this month. What the Akali Dal is indulging in is a naked show of political stuntsmanship.
In news which has exposed the duplicity, hypocrisy and political opportunism of the party ruled by dynasts, the Economic Times has reported that Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned as a Union Cabinet Minister from the Modi government this month as a mark of “protest” against the farm-related reforms, was in-fact, only 10 days prior to her resignation, vociferously supporting the same ordinances. It must be pointed out that the exact reforms were in fact cleared by the Cabinet months ago, and Harsimrat Badal continued as a cabinet minister all this while, without so much as a whimper against the reforms.
“Our opposition parties have left no stone unturned to mislead farmers and sow seeds of doubt in their minds. In the entire country and not even in neighbouring Haryana has any farmer union raised a protest. In Punjab, the Congress and their B-team of AAP, have misled the farmers,” Harsimrat Badal roared 10 days prior to putting in her papers. Citing SAD patriarch Prakash Singh Badal’s message to farmers, she said: “He has also told you about these pro-farmer ordinances and asked farmers to not be misled by our opponents.”
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, in the same video message, also added, “Amarinder Singh is lying and doing drama. He himself brought an Act in 2017 but when the Centre implements the same things, he calls a special session to spread rumours and says that Tomar’s written assurances had no value.” Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had earlier written a letter to SAD Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, assuring him that the MSP and state-procurement regimes were not being touched by the government, and that they were here to stay.
Now, the same Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her husband have made it a life mission to resuscitate their dead political fortunes in Punjab by doing exactly what they accused Captain Amarinder Singh of – misleading the farmers. In fact, such is the brazenness of the Shiromani Akali Dal, that they have shamelessly decided to use the three highest Sikh religious institutions in Punjab to further their own petty political persuasions. While Sukhbir Singh Badal will be leading a protest march on October 1 from Sri Akal Takht Sahib (highest temporal seat of power for Sikhs) in Amritsar to Chandigarh, Harsimrat Kaur will lead a march from Sri Anandpur Sahib. Other Akali leaders are scheduled to lead a march from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo to Chandigarh on October 1.
The Badals are at their nadir, and are desperately trying to save their free-falling political fortunes in order to somehow make a substantial comeback in the 2022 state assembly election in Punjab. Already, a major chunk of their vote share has been eaten up by the superficial presence of Aam Aadmi Party in the state, which goes on to show the level of discontent which people harbour for the Badal-controlled Akali Dal.
The Congress in any case flourished in both the Assembly elections of 2017, and then in the General elections in 2019, owing to the massive anger which prevails on the ground against the Badals for the ten years of misgovernance of the state, not to mention the hegemony which they have established over Sikh institutions, for which, the ‘Sikh Panth’ which they claim to stand for, is massively disenchanted with them.
The Badal-led Akali Dal, essentially, by dissociating itself from the BJP, is trying to regain its foothold over Punjab. It does not realise, however, that if both BJP and the Congress play their cards well up to 2022, which they most likely will, the Badal dynasty will be thrown out of the politics of Punjab like a fly is thrown out of glass of milk.