In a major embarrassment to the Bharatiya Janata Party the Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal, has announced that he is returning the Padma Vibhushan in protest against the indifferent attitude of the Union government towards the agitating farmers of the country. He has written a letter to the President Ram Nath Kovind in this regard on Dec 2.
Badal, 93, incidentally was honored with the Padma Vibhushan by the Narendra Modi government itself on March 30, 2015.
SAD was till September last the oldest ally of the BJP and its origin can be traced to the Bharatiya Jan Sangh days. His son Sukhbir Singh Badal is now the party chief and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal was the Union minister till Sep 17 when she quit the post in protest against the passage of three farm Bills by Lok Sabha. The SAD then pulled out of the NDA.
Badal’s decision came after talks between the farmers and the government failed to yield any result. It must be recalled that he first became the Union Agriculture minister in the Morarji Desai government in March 1977 and subsequently became the chief minister of Punjab the same year when SAD-Janata Party alliance won the election. The senior Badal was considered close to late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani. In the last five decades, the relationship between SAD and BJP, or BJS has never reached to such a pass. The souring of relationship between the two will have its impact on the political scenario of the state which is going to polls in early 2022.
Meanwhile four farmers have so far died either of cold or heart attack in the last eight days of agitation.