WATER remained the key issue at both SAD and Congress’ political conferences held at the annual Chhapar Mela in Ludhiana Friday ahead of the 2017 Punjab elections.
While Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Captain Amarinder Singh said caution should be exercised while dealing with the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, citing the violence in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery dispute, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal told people to be ready for a “badda hamla” (big attack) as their water, which is already being diverted to Rajasthan, would also be given to Haryana.
The CM said the Congress “was the perpetrator of a deep-rooted conspiracy to deprive the state of its waters by constructing the SYL canal and that AAP will also do the same if given a chance”.
Both CM and Captain were speaking at their respective political conferences.
Amarinder, while addressing an impressive gathering, announced come what may, he will not allow an extra drop of water to flow out of Punjab as it could render at least ten lakh acres of land in the Malwa region barren.
He blamed CM Badal for the SYL mess, saying his role dated back to 1978 when he was CM and wanted to please his friend and the then Haryana chief minister Devi Lal.
CM Badal, on the other hand, said with the SYL canal Congress Badal, Capt warn of water wars over SYL issue aimed at ruining the state by snatching its only available natural resources from the state.
Coming down heavily on AAP, the CM said the affidavit submitted by the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi in Supreme Court on SYL issue has exposed the party’s “anti-Punjab mindset”.
He said that as Kejriwal hailed from Haryana, he was naturally inclined towards his native state.
Badal said the AAP leadership believed in politics of confrontation and, if they were voted to power, foodgrains grains of farmers of the state would never be lifted as they would indulge in fight with the Centre.
He said despite immense contribution of Punjabis in the national freedom struggle, successive wars and making the country self-reliant in food production, the successive Congress governments have meted out step-motherly treatment to the state.
Badal made Congress responsible for every thing that is wrong in Punjab, including farmers’ suicides, and said that even the “shadow of Congress and AAP was bad for the state”.
He called upon the people to be extra-cautious during the electoral battle this time and they would have to choose between enemies and friends of the state.
Amarinder, on the other hand, lashed out at the Badals and Punjab Revenue Minister Majithia and said they had destroyed Punjab’s economy, agriculture and the youth by pushing them into drugs and grabbed every profit-making business. “Badals got richer and richer by billions of rupees, Punjab got proportionately bankrupt,” he said.
The PPCC chief said the moment elections are announced and the code of conduct comes into force, the Badals will need to run for cover. “People will not let them enter their villages,” he said.
Touching on the religious pulse of people, Badal reminded people of Operation Blue Star and the killing of innocents in 1984 anti-Sikh carnage under Congress rule at the Centre.
Amarinder, meanwhile, cautioned people against the divisive tactics of Badal, saying he was a master in polarising people and said: “The desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in Behbal Kalan, followed by similar desecration incidents of Quran and Geeta and attack on Sant Dhadrianwale and later on an RSS leader in Jalandhar was all aimed at creating fear and polarising people. Badal had done it earlier and he was doing it again”.
Badal promised peace and massive development in the state if they are returned to power while Amarinder promised to eradicate drug menace in four weeks, cancelling all false FIRs against Congress workers, employment and restoring Punjab to number one state in the country.
He said not only will these be cancelled, those responsible for registering these, whether the Akali Jathedars or the police officials, will also be held accountable.
Later on interacting with the mediapersons, the CM, when asked about Haryana’s objection against using Mohali’s with the International airport near Chandigarh, said it was justified to name International Airport as Mohali International Airport because it was built on a land in Mohali and no questions should be raised on it.
Amarinder’s reply on the same issue was that the airport must be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh as had already been agreed upon by both the states. He said the union civil aviation ministry should clarify the matter.
On AAP’s move of equating their leadership with Panj Pyaras, the CM said the AAP has scant respect for high ideals of Sikh religion.
Amarinder’s take on it was that AAP convener Gurpreet Ghuggi, who compared Arvind Kejriwal with the 10 Sikh Guru and said the Panj Pyaras were also outsiders, deserved to be thrashed for this blasphemy.
He reiterated that Punjab will be for Punjabis while announcing he will contest against Kejriwal if and wherever he decides to fight from in Punjab. “But I think he has already run away,” he remarked.