Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal today announced that the party would contest the parliamentary and state assembly elections in Haryana independently.
Addressing the party's first major rally at the grain market in Pipli town ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls, the SAD president said "we have promised and delivered in Punjab. Now, we are ready to take up the responsibility of working for the welfare of the people of Haryana".
He appealed to Punjabis to unite under the flag of the SAD to script a new history in Haryana. No one can stop you from acquiring power once you unite as one with the SAD, he added.
Mr Badal said if the SAD was voted to power in the state, it would implement a free power policy for the agriculture sector. He announced free piped irrigation water to all fields, 400 units free power per month to Dalits besides a slew of facilities for all sections of society.
The SAD is a key ally of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and also shared power with the saffron party in Punjab before Amarinder Singh-led Congress stormed to power. In Haryana, the SAD has parted ways with longtime ally Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the principal opposition party in the BJP-ruled state.
Making it clear that the SAD would take on the Congress aggressively in Haryana, Mr Badal assured the gathering that his party would continue the struggle for justice for 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims as long as the perpetrators were not jailed.
Mr Badal also alleged that the Punjabi community was discriminated against by the Congress party "be it during the Emergency or later during the period of militancy".
He claimed even now the community was facing discrimination as reflected by an incident in Hisar where a Sikh family was the victim of an alleged target attack.
"We can stop all this only by wresting power," he added.
SAD's Haryana unit incharge Balwinder Singh Bhundur highlighted how former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal benefitted farmers and downtrodden by the free power facility as well as schemes like 'Shagun' and 'Aata-Daal'.
He said such schemes could be replicated in Haryana if the people supported the SAD.
Haryana SAD president Sharanjit Singh Sohta claimed that there was a feeling that various political parties in Haryana had not given due respect to Punjabis and now the entire community was looking up to the SAD to lead it.
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