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SAD team lists demands to PM

June 09, 2018 05:47 AM


Jatin Gandhi jatin.gandhi@hindustantimes.com ■
SAD team lists demands to PM

NEW DELHI: Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal led a delegation of party leaders that included union cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday and demanded that the government assure farmers are paid minimum support price for their crop based on the ‘input costs’ formula recommended by the MS Swaminathan Commission.

In the 45-minute long meeting, the SAD leaders also demanded that diesel and petrol prices be slashed significantly or the fuels be brought under the Goods and Services Tax regime, food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said.

She said the party had sought time from the prime minister to thank him for the government’s recent decision to waive off GST on community kitchens and the package announced for the sugar sector on Wednesday. “These decisions directly affect the people and farmers of Punjab so we had gone to thank the PM,” she added. However, the SAD delegation, which also included Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee chief Gobind Singh Longowal, also made a number of demands of the government.

“He was very receptive to all the demands. It was a good meeting,” she added.

The other demands made by the SAD include release of Sikh prisoners who were “detained during Operation Bluestar (in 1984)”, impressing upon Pakistan to grant Sikh pilgrims visas and creating a corridor for them to visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara across the border, observing first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev’s 550 birthday in 2019 as a national event and declaring a new, higher MSP for paddy.

The meeting came a day after Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah met SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh and discussed unity within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The SAD is one of the oldest allies of the BJP. After Thursday’s meeting, the two parties had formed a coordination committee to work on fighting the next Lok Sabha election together while Sukhbir Badal had also appealed to other NDA allies to stick together.

While the Telegu Desam Party quit the NDA in March, other allies such as the Shiv Sena and the RLSP have also publicly aired their differences with the BJP in the recent past.

Lok Sabha MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, who was part of the delegation, said the party wants the government to use the Swaminathan commission’s formula for calculating input costs for farmers. This assigns a value to the cost of the land. which the formula currently used by the government doesn’t.

The commission had recommended that MSP for crops be fixed at 50 % above the input costs for farmers including notional rent for their land and labour costs

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