Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh on Wednesday said the Termination of Agreements Act passed by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in state in 2004 had many loopholes and 12 years later things stood where they were then.
He was speaking during the special session of the state assembly called to find a way out of the crisis that emerged after the Supreme Court rejected the 2004 Act.
Tota Singh claimed that when Amarinder Singh as CM had brought the bill in the Vidhan Sabha, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) that was in opposition supported it, despite being aware that its Section 5 providing for continued flow of water to Rajasthan was against the riparian principle. “The 2004 act was an eyewash,” he added.
The minister, who stood up to present the historical perspective on the issue, had to make repeated appeals to seek more time from speaker Charnjit Singh Atwal, when the latter was about to pass the resolution. “The copies of the 2004 bill were circulated to the opposition benches when the House proceedings had already begun and when we tried to raise objection on the Section 5, the speaker did not allow us to raise the voice,” Tota Singh said.
He said the absence of Congress MLAs from the House during the special session on Wednesday showed that they were enemies of Punjab.
He alleged that the Congress, which was founded by a Britisher (AO Hume) in 1885, never had right intentions towards Punjab, particularly Sikhs. “We don’t have any hopes from them,” he said.
He debunked the theory that the Congress high command in Delhi by taken by surprise when the water bill was passed in the state assembly in 2004. “They knew it. The bill was pre-planned to buy time and just see that 12 years after that we are standing at the same point,” he said.
Pointing fingers at how an appointment was fixed with the then governor of Punjab on the day the Act was passed on July 12, 2004, he said it showed everything was stage-managed. “Why within ten days of sending the Act to the President, it was forwarded to the Supreme Court for a presidential reference,” he questioned.
The minister also asked why Congress MLAs and the then CM had not resigned when President instead of clearing the Act, referred it to the Supreme Court.
BJP STANDS BY SAD
Meanwhile, the BJP stood by its coalition partner SAD on the SYL issue. Party MLA Manoranjan Kalia called for rewriting Indus Water Treaty that divides water of six rivers – Indus, Jhelum, Chenab (in Pakistan) and Ravi, Beas and Sutlej (in Punjab).
“We get only 20% of the total water and the rest is with Pakistan,” he said while blaming former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the “faulty” treaty.