After political parties in Punjab tried their best to exploit the controversial issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in the recently-held state Vidhan Sabha elections, now it’s Haryana’s turn.
Notwithstanding the fact that the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala has threatened to march into Punjab to start SYL digging on February 23.
After his statement, it was obvious for the political parties of Punjab to return to form after hectic and keenly-contested state assembly polls. Finding it another occasion to score, the leaders from Shiromani Akali Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and even some Sikh groups, including Dal Khalsa, have all come out in open throwing challenge to the INLD for entering Punjab with its ‘malafide’ intentions.
However, it is pertinent to mention here that the INLD has selected the date quite cautiously as the Supreme Court of India on February 15 after rejecting the Punjab government’s plea seeking stay on proceedings of the SYL canal case till election results, had asked the state to submit its reply till February 20 with also fixing the next court hearing for February 22.
But the political development on the issue has again proved a point that an issue, which was buried to some extent after the SAD-led government recently de-notified the SYL canal land and ‘returned’ it to the actual owners by passing a bill in the Vidhan Sabha few months back, still contains lot of potential to create unrest in the state.
During the Punjab poll campaign, at one hand the Congress and SAD kept on accusing each other of being the prime conspirators behind the SYL canal’s digging in the state, on the other, the two were sounded united in accusing the Aam Aadmi Party’s national chief Arvind Kejriwal of playing wicked role in the controversy.
Now when the INLD has given its programme, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, who had tendered his resignation in protest against the November 10 Supreme Court order on SYL canal controversy, has asked the governments at the Centre and in Haryana to take all necessary steps to prevent any violation of Punjab’s borders by the INLD.
Reacting strongly to INLD leader Abhay Chautala’s provocative statement that his party workers were ready to force their way into Punjab from Ambala, with or without permission from the district administration, Capt Amarinder has demanded action by the Haryana government against the INLD to prevent the eruption of an inter-state crisis.
If on one hand he has demanded strictness from SAD-led Punjab government, Amarinder has also appealed to the Election Commission to take note of the development and direct the Centre to intervene in order to ensure that peace is maintained at all costs.
With Amarinder giving press statements, it was obvious for the ruling party leaders also to jump into the quagmire.
As the ruling Badal family is away to the United States, the Shiromani Akali Dal’s spokesman and Cabinet Minister Daljit Singh Cheema has been assigned the task to make the party’s viewpoint be heard with a further objective to put it in the ears of Chautalas, who otherwise have close relations with the Badal family.
Cheema, while clarifying that the SYL issue was dead once and for all as the Punjab assembly as well as the SAD-BJP government in the state had passed resolutions for restoration of the land acquired for the project, also mentioned that the land acquired for the project had been restored to its original owners and it was now in the possession of the farmers of Punjab.
Reiterating his party’s stand, Cheema has said the SAD would never allow the completion of the project as ‘it would deprive Punjab’s farmers of their own waters.’
Going ahead he declared that the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal issue was ‘more of life and death for not only the farmers of Punjab but for all Punjabis’ as the state was already witnessing a depletion of the water table in the recent years. With his claim, he added that it was most unfortunate that the political parties of neighbouring Haryana were resorting to provocative actions by issuing statements regarding digging of the canal.
Cheema, foreseeing the days ahead, said that such statements (of INLD) would lead to tension in both the states and also contribute towards inciting violence between the neighbours which is not in anybody’s favour, mentioning further that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced many-a-time that the SAD was committed to safeguard the waters of Punjab and it would go to any length, including sacrificing their own lives, for the safety and security of Punjabis in general and farmers in particular.
With fate of this controversial SYL canal unknown, one thing still can be assumed with the track record of all political parties that none of them would like the issue to go unscored and while playing this ‘bloody game’ they would not mind the sacrifices of Innocent people.
So, it is the duty of every citizen of both the neighbouring states, which were one before reorganisation and still have close social bonding, not to be a part of the ill-moves of any political party with a determination that they would not let their peace and harmony get disturbed.
And also, one must keep faith in the Apex court.
The political development on the issue has again proved a point that the issue, which was buried to some extent after the SAD-led government recently de-notified the SYL canal land and ‘returned’ it to the actual owners, still contains lot of potential to create unrest in the state.