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Old 31-Jul-2008


Chandigarh July 31:
Wiser after the July 22 verdict on the trust vote, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has decided to explore possibilities of initiating and supporting a pro-federalism alliance in an endeavour to deny a Congress-led coalition power at the Centre.
“We have already initiated a dialogue with some regional parties, including the AIDMK, the TDP, the Trinamool Congress and others,” says SAD president Sukhbir Badal revealing that his party is not averse to a “new alliance at the Centre that gives regional parties their due, besides strengthening state-federal relations.”
“The August 2 rally of the SAD in the Capital is just a step in that direction,” he adds, maintaining that the “new initiative in no way affects our time-tested partnership with the Bharatiya Janata Party, both in Punjab and at the Centre.”
Sukhbir clarified that the SAD was supportive of measures that would help to solve the energy demands of the country. “We hold Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in high esteem as a Sikh, a Punjabi and a man of integrity. But it is his association with the Sikh Congress party that we oppose,” says Sukhbir.
“It is now time for pro-federalism forces and parties to come together. I have been holding meetings with leaders of various parties who are supportive of this new idea. A pro-federalism group can provide an alternative at the Centre as the regional parties have been gaining in popularity and political strength in the present political scenario dominated by alliances,” adds Sukhbir.
The agenda of the SAD is to redress the grievances of farmers. The UPA government has done nothing to ameliorate the suffering of the farming community. Besides denying them the Minimum Support Price for their produce, the Centre has done nothing to bail out debt-ridden farmers of Punjab.
The UPA government may have won the vote of confidence, but the major issues facing the country today are inflation and rising prices. Essential commodities, including wheat, rice, edible oils, pulses and even fruit and vegetables are out of a common man’s reach and inflation had touched an all-time high of 12 per cent, says Sukhbir.
He said the loan waiver for farmers was a drama. Punjab farmers got only 1 per cent of the total benefit of the Rs 72,000-crore waiver. Since Punjab had been the food bowl of the country, its land was getting depleted of its nutrients and the water table was receding.
Punjab’s request for a Central grant of Rs 6,000 crore for an irrigation revamp project elicited no response from the UPA government and it reluctantly introduced the wheat-enhancement programme in 13 districts of the state.

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