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‘If It Is Them Today, It’ll Be Us Tomorrow’: Akali Dal Targets Modi After Rajasthan Speech

This is the Akali Dal's strongest attack so far against Modi, with whom it shared power in the Union government for several years before the farmers' movement in 2020 spoiled their formal alliance.
File photo: Credit: X/@Akali_Dal_.

Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal, which claims to represent the interest of Punjabis and especially the Sikh community, launched a scathing attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day after his remarks on Muslims during an election rally in Rajasthan triggered widespread anger among the INDIA opposition bloc.

Modi had said that if voted into power, the country’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, would distribute the country’s wealth among “infiltrators” and “those who have more children,” in apparent reference to the Muslim community.

“When they [the Congress] were in power, they said Muslims have the first right over resources. They will gather all your wealth and distribute it among those who have more children. They will distribute it among infiltrators,” Modi said to thunderous roars from the audience.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

“Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to infiltrators? Would you accept this?” Modi asked.

Sharing a clip of Modi’s Sunday speech, Akali Dal national spokesperson Parambans Singh Romana posted on X (formerly Twitter): “Venom and hate at another level. Btw [by the way] India is supposed to be a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic.””

Romana added: “The fault with all of us is that we think of injustice only when it happens against us. If it is them today it will be us tomorrow. Shameful and very disturbing.”

Also read: Modi’s Lie on Manmohan Singh’s 18-Year-Old Speech, Hate-Speech Against Muslims Get Pushback, But Not From EC

Meanwhile, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal reacted by saying that the prime minister should never have made statements that spread communal hatred, mutual suspicion and venom among India’s people.

“India belongs equally to Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and others. The PM and the BJP must learn from Sardar Parkash Singh Badal how to ensure peace and communal harmony. Badal sahib used to personally honour and celebrate religious events and occasions of every community. This country belongs to all of us. Everyone must respect this fact,” Badal said.

This is the Akali Dal’s strongest attack so far against Modi, with whom it shared power in the Union government for several years before the farmers’ movement in 2020 spoiled their formal alliance.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was again interested in entering an alliance with Akali Dal ahead of the general elections.

But alliance talks failed after the Akali Dal could not get the BJP to commit to its pre-poll demands like the release of Sikh prisoners and a minimum support price for all crops for farmers, which triggered the second leg of the farmers’ protest in February this year.

Apart from Romana, another senior Akali leader, Bikram Singh Majithia, who is also the brother-in-law of party president Badal, took a jibe at Modi.

“Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji has taught us to treat all human beings as equal and seek good for everyone by saying ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’. What PM Modi had done yesterday has undermined our constitution framed by Dr B.R. Ambedkar for the country which treats all citizens as equals @Akali_Dal_ has always stood for minorities, Punjab and Punjabiat. PM Sh. Narendra Modi Ji IS this ‘Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas?,” said Majithia in a post on X.

“Very ashamed by your statement as you are the PM of India and India is a secular nation. I strongly condemn this conduct of PM Modi done solemnly with the purpose of polarisation of votes which also indicates they are losing the election,” he added.

Also read: Election Commission Declines Comment as Modi Gives His Most Divisive Speech in 30 Years

What conveys the Akali Dal’s changed stance on Modi?

For a long time, both Akali and BJP leaders maintained that the two parties were natural political allies. But things are no more the same.

Political analyst Harjeshwar Singh told The Wire that the Akali Dal’s fierce attack against Modi has deep political meaning.

He said the BJP continues to be unpopular in rural Punjab due to farmers’ strong opposition to the Modi government in the past few years. Almost all their Lok Sabha candidates faced protests in rural areas during their recent campaigns.

“By attacking Modi and the BJP, the Akali Dal – which is in revival mode – is making all attempts to unburden itself of its past ties with the BJP and send a message to its core voters that they stand with the wider interests of Punjab and Punjabis,” he said.

He added: “Secondly, the Akali Dal is also wary of the fact that the BJP is on an expansion spree in Punjab. Attacking Modi on his anti-Muslim remark is politically prudent to galvanise its core Sikh voters back home.”

Last week, Majithia openly asked voters to not allow BJP candidates to enter villages in Punjab.

“The BJP stopped farmers from moving towards Delhi for their protest. Just like they have stopped farmers from going to Delhi, BJP candidates should also be stopped from entering the villages of Punjab. They should be confronted with questions,” he said.

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