By Bhawna Malik
New Delhi, February 13: For the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), it appears road to revival is through yatra. Former Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal has embarked on a yatra which is being said to be tacitly supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also. The BJP is widely being speculated to be mulling to revive the old ties with the SDA ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
‘Punjab Bachao Yatra’ kicked off on 1st of February from Attari constituency after offering prayers at Sri Akal Takht Sahib, in the presence of senior SAD leaders Daljit Singh Cheema, Bikramjit Singh Majithia and Bhai Manjit Singh. It also reportedly got support from the BJP Punjab unit chief Sunil Jhakhar who was earlier in the Congress party.
After 10 days of the yatra, rumours are abuzz of the BJP and the SAD alliance being on the anvil. Union Home Minister Amit Shah too agreed that talks are underway for an alliance. The BJP and the SAD alliance broke in 2020 due to farmers’ protest against the farm laws. Harsimrat Kaur Badal had also resigned as a Union Minister.
The two months long yatra would be covering 43 Assembly constituencies in Punjab. In its first phase 26 constituencies and in the month of March that marks the second phase 13 constituencies of Ludhiana would be covered. The Yatra aims to create awareness about the people-centric policies of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and also capture the pulse of people of Punjab as the year 2024 marks for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Both Congress and AAP have called it a political gimmick and ‘Akali Dal bachao yatra’.
Sukhbir Badal, along with Former minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon and senior Akali leader Virsa Singh Valtoha covered areas like Patti, Khemkaran, Tarn Taran and promised special packages for border belt and that he would also invest in institutions for skill building for the youth and also work to resume trade with Pakistan via Attari.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal has criticized the AAP government for economically ruining Punjab by taking a loan of Rs 70,000 crores in just two years of its coming to power which has made state debt shoot up by Rs 3.4 lakh crore which is the highest in the country and constitutes 48% of its gross domestic product. (GDP).
The previous congress government had borrowed Rs 1 lakh in five years of its tenure. Harsimrat Badal also pointed out that the AAP government has increased stamp duty by 2% making buying homes and vehicles a costly affair for common man.