India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) oldest ally in Punjab and at the national level, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the Narendra Modi government's controversial farm Bills.
Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal announced on Saturday night that his party has decided to quit NDA, just days after his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Modi cabinet over the law passed by parliament recently.
The highest decision-making body of the SAD at its emergency meeting decided unanimously to pull out of the NDA alliance, he said.
SAD pulled out of the coalition in protest against a new law which critics allege could pave the way for the government to stop buying foodgrain at guaranteed prices and allow private players to step in. The Indian government has maintained that it would continue to buy grains at minimum support price from farmers and that the law would widen the options for farmers to sell their produce where they get a better price.
Akali Dal became the third major NDA constituent to quit the alliance after Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, India's second most important state politically because of the number of Lok Sabha seats there after Uttar Pradesh, and Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh in the last two years.
Akali Dal, ally of BJP for 24 years, had been under mounting pressure from its core support base, the farmers in Punjab, to snap its alliance with BJP ever since the farm legislation was cleared by parliament 11 days ago.