Chandigarh, (Samajweekly) Akali patriarch and five-time Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday expressed “immense satisfaction and pride” over the strong and principled stand taken by the Shiromani Akali Dal “to save the beleaguered peasantry and the country”.
“I am pleased and proud that when the hour of reckoning arrived, my party as always has held aloft the flag of justice for farmers and other exploited sections of society. This flag symbolises the identity of the Akali culture and movements and it is a great feeling to watch it flying high,” said Badal in a statement here.
Badal said the farmers’ issue relates to the overall national interest.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. If farmers and agricultural economy suffers, the whole economy, including trade and industry will suffer too.”
He said the Akalis have a long history of rejecting lure of office and standing up for principles.
“Lure of office means nothing to an Akali. Countless times, as during the Emergency, we turned down outright offers of power as a price for silence against injustice. But we always spurned such offers and preferred to stand by the country and principles, and filled jails for that. That tradition will always live on.”
Ninety-four-year-old Badal described the party’s decision to pull out of the Union government to fight alongside the farmers as “a proud and landmark moment in the party’s long history of standing up for principles and of always being on the side of the people whenever a line is drawn.”
The Akali leader said the farmers’ plight is already extremely pathetic.
“The Punjab farmers always came to the country’s rescue when it needed to be saved from the ignominy of famines and dependence on other nations. And they did so by sacrificing their only natural resources — water levels and soil fertility. Today, it is the country’s turn to stand by the farmers.”
Badal said he was confident that the outstanding and proud legacy of the Shiromani Akali Dal will be carried forward with aplomb.
“With SAD’s present leadership ‘firmly and decisively’ standing shoulder to shoulder with the farmers, I am totally confident that the party’s proud and age-old legacy of fighting for the downtrodden, the needy and the exploited classes is in safe hands.
“The SAD has always upheld the Panthic traditions of raising its voice in defence of the righteous causes, and after the decision of our minister to quit the Union government to fight for the farmers’ interests, I have no doubt that this tradition will be carried forward strongly and unflinchingly,” said Badal.
The former Chief Minister said that with the resignation of its sole representative in the Union Cabinet, Harsimrat Badal, the SAD has demonstrated yet again that nothing is dearer to it than its principles as well as the interests of the people, especially of the farmers, the farm labour and other poor classes who are toiling for their rights.
“I have run out of words to express how happy and proud I feel of my party for this decision,” said Badal.
Badal also felicitated Harsimrat Badal for “speaking out boldly for the farmers and for promising to stand by them as their “sister and daughter”.
“This is what people expect from the Akali leadership and I feel deeply satisfied and quietly proud that the present leadership of the party has fully lived up to people’s, especially the farmers’, expectations in their hour of need,” said Badal.