Thursday, July 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Badal under pressure to snap ties with NDA
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The Shiromani Akali Dal chief and former Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is under intense pressure to bid adieu to the BJP-led NDA but he is unlikely to take the extreme step.

Mr Badal has apprised his SAD colleagues that it is inadvisable to snap ties with the NDA. At the same time he has appealed to his party men to fight the alleged excesses heaped against the Akalis by the Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh.

Mr Badal, who has a close equation with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has taken exception to the NDA’s decision to send a team to Punjab belatedly for an on-the-spot assessment of the political situation in the border state. He has suggested to the NDA leadership that the visit of the delegation be scrapped as it will be an exercise in futility at this late stage.

Agitated political affairs committee members of the SAD are insistent that they should break away from the BJP in particular which is riding piggy back on their shoulders in Punjab. They are angry that despite repeated entreaties the Centre has failed to grasp what they describe as the “gravity of the political vendetta” unleashed in Punjab.

SAD sources maintain that Akali leaders are being continuously humiliated and maltreated which is crossing all democratic and legal norms on the specious plea of fighting rampant and entrenched corruption.

The Central leadership initially believed that it is impossible for the Capt Amarinder Singh government to arrest a senior leader like Mr Badal, who first entered the state Assembly way back in 1957. Mr Badal has been the Chief Minister of Punjab thrice apart from having served as a union minister as well.

The Central leadership’s impression appears to have changed with the fast paced developments in Punjab with raids being conducted on the premises of Mr Badal, his family members and relatives.

The Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had met Mr Vajpayee and the Deputy Prime Minister Mr L.K. Advani, recently to apprise them of the deteriorating political environment in Punjab and the imminent threat of Mr Badal being arrested which can lead to a serious law and order situation.

Following the coming together of Mr Badal and the SAD faction headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, there is widespread anger that the BJP-led NDA has failed to rein in the Capt Amarinder Singh government.

In August last year, Mr Badal had called on Mr Advani and said the Congress government was not functioning in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution. This was strongly contested by Capt Amarinder Singh that the state government cannot remain silent spectators against those who had feathered their nests and looted the exchequer.

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