The resignation of Union Food Processing Industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal just on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday was certainly not a good gift to the latter. She resigned in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Besides, it came close to the Bihar Assembly election and is being interpreted as a sort of blow to the National Democratic Alliance as her party, Shrimoni Akali Dal, is the oldest ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The relationship goes back to the days of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, which merged with the Janata Party in 1977. The SAD shared power with the Janata Party after the Assembly election held in 1977 when her father-in-law, Prakash Singh Badal, became the chief minister. Later her husband, Sukhbir Singh Badal, too served as deputy chief minister of Punjab.
Though she quit from the cabinet –the first such resignation by any minister of the BJP’s partner after the 2019 Lok Sabha poll–on the plea of being overlooked at the time of legislation, yet the truth is that her decision has much to do with the politics of her own state Punjab as well as the NDA in general.
The Akali Dal has been upset ever since the Delhi riots and even before. A large number of Sikhs, its main support base, backed the movement against the CAA-cum-NRC. Assembly election in Punjab is due early in 2022 and the farmers are on the warpath over the recent decisions of the Union government which they term as pro-industrialist and anti-farmers. As the resignation by Badal has come out not at a very opportune moment Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a speech delivered a day later, on Sep 18 showered praise on Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
The Prime Minister’s latest backing to Nitish should be looked in the background of the political developments within NDA. The Shiv Sena, the second oldest constituent of the NDA, had left it a year back. In poll bound Bihar, another NDA partner, the LJP is putting pressure on the BJP to cut Janata Dal United to size. The JD(U) is the third oldest ally of the NDA and the BJP is in no mood to lose it. As the farmers especially of North India are on warpath, political observers are keenly watching the stand of the latest ally of the BJP in Haryana, Jan Nayak Janata Party. The JNJP is supporting the BJP government in Haryana.