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Rs 6,000 a year to farmer too less, double it, says Sukhbir 

Chandigarh, February 3

The Shiromani Akali Dal today said the Rs 6,000 per annum direct income support announced for farmers by the NDA government was too less. This happens to be the first reaction by the BJP ally on the Interim Budget.

The SAD had recently expressed anger over alleged interference in Sikh affairs by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an RSS affiliate, and threatened to snap ties with the BJP. Having objected to an alleged bid by the Sangat to take over Sikh shrines, the party, though a constituent of the NDA, had not reacted to the Budget.

Tough posturing by the Akali Dal, despite having received an assurance from the BJP chief that the RSS would not step on to Akali Dal’s turf, shows the issues between the allies might have been sorted out for now, but the peace could be “conditional”.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal emphasised that the assured income support announced by the Modi government was too less. “Punjab is different from other states and a minimum of Rs 12,000 per annum should have been announced. A delegation of Akali Dal MPs will meet the Finance Minister to request him to increase the income support,” he said.

The government should also extend the scheme to farm labourers, he added. 

He said BJP chief Amit Shah assured him at a meeting on Friday night that amendments made to the Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board Nanded Act, 1956, would be repealed.

Addressing reporters, the SAD chief declared that the two parties would contest the elections together. “The seat arrangement (SAD 10, BJP three) would be the same, although discussions are on to evaluate the possibility of any change,” he said. A meeting of the coordination committee would be held this week to sort out all issues, he said.

Badal said the SAD core committee had also asked the Punjab Government to fulfil its moral obligation towards farmers and farm labourers by announcing a matching direct income support for them, as done by the Centre.

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