THE 43 Congress MLAs in the Punjab Assembly Friday submitted their resignation letters to the Vidhan Sabha Secretary, in the absence of Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, to lodge their protest against Supreme Court’s verdict on SYL Thursday, barely three months before the Assembly elections in the state.
Led by Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi, most of party’s 42 MLAs and an Independent associate member of the party in Vidhan Sabha, submitted their resignations to Assembly Secretary Shashi Lakhanpal Mishra.
Mishra said she received 43 resignation letters and she would pass them to the Speaker. Atwal, who reached his office in the evening, told The Indian Express that he had received the resignations but had not accepted them, “During the next three-four days, I will consider whether to accept their resignations or not.”
The state government had on Thursday called an emergency session of the Vidhan Sabha on November 16 to likely pass a bill to save Punjab waters from flowing to Haryana. Congress leaders pre-empted that the government, in order to outdo other political parties, would like to term Congress MLAs “deserters.”
“We have resigned from the Assembly. Now, it is up to them to accept our resignations or not,” said Congress spokesperson Sunil Kumar Jakhar.
The CLP meeting, organised before the MLAs proceeded towards the Speaker’s office, attended by former Congress president and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, other RS members Ambika Soni and Shamsher Singh Dullo along with party legislators, decided to burn effigies of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in all the 117 Assembly segments of the state on Saturday. Former Akali MLA, Inderbir Singh Bolaria, who resigned from SAD as well as the Assembly to join the Congress, was also part of the CLP meeting.
Amarinder, while speaking to the media, announced that the CLP had also decided to hold a rally at Abohar – the tail-end of the SYL canal – on Sunday. All party MLAs and MPs will participate in the rally. The Congress also decided to seek a meeting with the President to apprise him of the problems that will be faced by the people of Punjab as a result of the court’s verdict. The CLP demanded that another tribunal to take ground reports to assess the amount of water available with the state.
Facing allegations of “political gimmickry”, the Congress is faced with several questions. These include that the party was trying to gain capital out of the SYL issue as Punjab was going to polls early next year. Moreover, only Amarinder resigned from the Parliament when the party had three MPs from Punjab. Also, three Congress leaders represent Punjab in the Rajya Sabha. Attempting to answer these questions, Amarinder said, “All other MPs sent their resignations to me yesterday. But I advised them against it as we need representatives from Punjab to take up SYL case in both houses of Parliament,” he said.
Even as the party tried to put up a united front, differences were visible in the body language of leaders. Bajwa and Amarinder were seen leading different factions to the Speaker’s office.
MLAs present at the CLP meeting included Brahm Mohindra, Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur, Tarlochan Singh Soond, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Kuljit Nagra, Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, former Punjab Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Those who could not be present personally sent their resignations to the party president, whose office forwarded these to the Speaker.