CHANDIGARH: Punjab Congress, led by Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday vowed to protect the last drop of the state’s water, declaring that not a single drop would be allowed to leave the state till their last breath.
Addressing a rally at Khuian Sarwar village on the Abohar-Ganganagar Main Highway Road, close to Abohar – the tail-end of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, Amarinder dared the Akalis to quit the Assembly and face the Congress in Assembly elections, which he said should be held next month itself to prevent chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from vitiating the atmosphere of the state further.
Reacting to the chief minister’s assertion that he was ready to face the bullet in order to protect the water of Punjab, Amarinder said Badal had, back in 1984, made similar claims but when the time came to fight for Punjab he went into hiding in his farms in Uttar Pradesh, leaving the people of Punjab to fend for themselves.
Pointing out that 10 lakh acres of land, farmed by 2 lakh farmer families and supported by another 2 lakh agricultural labourers depended on agriculture in Punjab, Amarinder said implementation of the SYL verdict would finish them all. The Akalis had 10 years to resolve the issue and battle the case in court effectively but they failed to do anything, he said, adding that they were only interested in the creation of Punjabi Suba in order to rule a Sikh-dominated region for their personal vested interests.
“Why did Badal not tell the court that Punjab had no water to spare, with all the glaciers having melted,” Amarinder asked.
Referring to the controversial Clause 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, Amarinder said Badal was misleading the state on the issue by making fraudulent claims on scrapping it. Removal of the clause would not be acceptable to the central government led by BJP, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is an ally, he added, accusing Badal of playing with the sentiments of the people.
Alleging a major conspiracy of the Badals in the matter, Amarinder said scrapping the clause would have huge national ramification, which could even lead to the Centre sacking the Akali government in Punjab, which is probably what Badal is aiming at in order to secure political mileage ahead of the polls by making the issue even more contentious.
Amarinder reiterated his demand for the establishment of a new Tribunal to assess the quantum of water availability with Punjab, saying it was essential to take further steps on sharing of river water. Amarinder also lashed out at Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal for failing to clarify, even three days after the SYL verdict, whether or not he stands with Punjab on this vital issue. His silence is deliberate as he has his eyes on the chief ministership of Punjab while also trying desperately to protect his interests in Delhi and Haryana, he said.