The strong family bonding between two top political clans, Badals in Punjab and Chautalas in Haryana, is well known. However, in the wake of the Punjab government’s stance on the SYL canal issue under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal has forced INLD to snap its political relationship with Badal-led SAD completely. For the first time, INLD shall not be campaigning for SAD for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls scheduled early next year.
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In an interview with The Indian Express, senior INLD leader Abhay Chautala, who is also leader of opposition in Haryana Vidhan Sabha, said, “The personal relationship with the Badal family is separate. But when it comes to the interests of Haryana, we decided not to campaign for SAD in the forthcoming elections. Otherwise, be it any election, we used to go to Punjab and campaign full-throttle for SAD and vice versa. It would be interesting to watch Haryana Congress and BJP. Would they also be able to take such a stand in the interest of Haryana and not campaign for their parties in Punjab?”
“It was only INLD that lodged a strong protest in Vidhan Sabha in March after Punjab passed a resolution to return SYL land to its original owners. We even met Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker and lodged our strong protest. That was the day when we decided we would not be holding any political ties with SAD. Our family relations are intact, but when it comes to the issue of Haryana’s water, we shall not stand with SAD in Punjab,” Chautala said.
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Lashing out at Haryana Congress and BJP, he said, “Whenever such a question arises, both these parties say they are national parties and claim they have to watch national interest. For politicians, national interest is only to strengthen entire nation. If you weaken one to strengthen another, then the weakened will definitely curse you for injustice. The national leaders of both the parties should clear their stance. For that, we requested Chief Minister [Manohar Lal Khattar] to call Vidhan Sabha session. He has not responded yet. We have announced that if union government doesn’t ensure completion of this canal within three months by February 23, INLD shall march into Punjab and do the digging by ourselves”.
Attacking BJP, Chautala said, “Leaders of Haryana BJP must refrain from campaigning in Punjab since their party is also part of ruling alliance that had taken an illegal and unconstitutional stand on SYL issue. But can they take such a tough stand in the interest of Haryana? That remains a vital question. They must answer it to the people. A Cabinet minister of BJP government in Haryana, Capt. Abhimanyu, has already been appointed as party affairs co-incharge in Punjab”.
Criticising the Union government’s crop insurance scheme, Chautala said, “If a farmer is unable to pay back his loan, he prefers committing suicide. Hundreds of farmers have ended their lives due to inability to pay their debt. Government doesn’t bother about them.”
Talking of demonetisation, he said, “BJP had declared they would bring back black money from Swiss bank. That never happened. After demonetisation, who is standing in the queues outside bank? A labourer whose entire family lives on his daily wages spends his day in the queue to deposit his small savings. But what about his that day’s earning? Who will feed his family? That’s the situation across the country. Even I tried withdrawing Rs 10,000 cash from my bank account in the Haryana civil secretariat, I failed. The bank manager asked me to come tomorrow.”