Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 28
The Punjab Government’s decision to withdraw free power facility from the farmers in a phased manner is set to trigger a political clash with the Shiromani Akali Dal saying it will launch an agitation to “save farmers.”
In response to the threat, the Congress said the SAD should first quit the coalition government at the Centre as the state government was being forced to follow the diktats of the Narendra government on the issue.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the party had been playing the role of a responsible Opposition by restricting protests to the virtual world only, but on the issue of farmers, the party will hit the streets. Party insiders said the leaders might seek the “blessings” of Akal Takht, if needed, on the issue.
The party has called a meeting of its core committee on May 30 to chalk out the strategy on the matter. Notably, the farming community forms a major chunk of the Akali vote bank. The move to withdraw free power might give political fodder to it to reclaim much-needed support in the state.
“The Akalis should first resign from the coalition government at the Centre which is forcing the states to withdraw free power from farmers to get loans or funds from the Centre. They should leave the coalition government and then talk about farmers,” said Sunil Jakhar, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.
The Cabinet had on Wednesday decided that free power from farmers will be withdrawn in phases. The Cabinet said this was being done as the Centre had refused to help the state economically, arguing it had enough money to bail out the farmers.
The government said it would not burden the farmers and reimburse the power bills.