A day after Shah, Akali leadership meets Modi

New Delhi/Chandigarh, June 8 (IANS) Just a day after meeting BJP president Amit Shah in Chandigarh, the top leadership of the Shiromani Akali Dal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday and emphasized that the BJP-Akali Dal alliance in Punjab was “durable and time-tested”.

The meeting with the Prime Minister assumes significance in view of some of the allies of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) openly criticizing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) attitude.

The Akali Dal on Thursday reiterated its alliance with the BJP for the 2019 general elections.

It urged the BJP leadership to ensure that minorities feel safe under the NDA rule and that the Sikh community, Punjab and its farmers get their dues.

“The Prime Minister at the very outset expressed his profound appreciation of the fact the Shiromani Akali Dal is the oldest and the most dependable ally of the BJP in the entire country,” a press statement of the Akali Dal in Chandigarh stated.

“This is the oldest, the most durable and time-tested alliance and the BJP profoundly values it. The alliance signifies the social and political consensus in Punjab and elsewhere and is a symbol of peace and communal harmony throughout the country, especially in Punjab,” it quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Besides, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Akali Dal delegation comprised Sukhdev Sigh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Union Cabinet Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, MP Prem Singh Chandumajra and Delhi Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

The president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Gobind Singh Longowal and Manjit Singh GK also attended the meeting.

The Akali Dal delegation thanked Modi for the Union government’s “unprecedented and decisive” initiative in exempting Langar from the GST.

“The delegation expressed its wholehearted appreciation for the fact that the decision on exemption on all purchases for Guru ka Langar for all Gurdwara Sahibaan throughout the country was a first ever initiative of its kind by the Government of India since Independence,” the statement said.

The Akali Dal leadership also urged the Prime Minister to expedite the implementation of the Swaminathan Report by which the farmers would be ensured a profit margin of 50 per cent over and above the costs incurred by them.

The delegation also asked the Prime Minister to set up a National Committee under his own chairmanship to ensure that the 550th Parkash Utsav (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev is celebrated as a major national event.

It urged Modi to ensure that all Sikh and Punjab detainees languishing in jails even after completing their sentence, in many cases lasting 20 years, should be immediately released.

“Keeping them in custody after the expiry of their sentence is both illegal and immoral,” the party statement said.

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