In an effort to revive the Shiromani Akali Dal’s old Panthic face, which in the recent past its leaders had put aside in favour of development, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Badal on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “speed up the process” of transferring Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas to the state.
The two leaders met Modi and advocated sharing of river waters based on the riparian principle; the BJP is in favour of interlinking of rivers in the country.
With the SAD-BJP’s poor showing in the recent parliamentary elections in Punjab, there is a general perception that the Akalis have abandoned their traditional agenda that used to be the party’s strength.
In the three-day poll results review meeting with the workers and leaders called by SAD president Sukhbir Badal last week, the issue came to the fore that the party was moving away from the Panthic agenda.
“Great injustice has been meted out to the state by taking away its legitimate share of river waters. Rivers are the lifeline of Punjab and ensuring their fullcapacity utilisation by the firstuser state is not only just and fair but also in national interest,” the Badals told Modi in a memorandum submitted to him, attributing the agrarian crisis in the state to the sharing of river waters flowing from Punjab by other states.
The Badals, in their meeting with Modi, described the transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab a step towards fulfilling the broad national consensus on the issue, as expressed through the parliamentary ratification of July 1985.
They also raised issues concerning Sikhs, such as amendment in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, making the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) an interstate body, taking away voting rights from Sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC polls, and not allowing a separate SGPC for Haryana.
The Badals demanded a commission of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge for probing the conspiracy, including official and political patronage, behind the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.