Left with scarce legal and legislative options to counter aftershocks of the Supreme Court order against Punjab’s Termination of Agreements Act-2004, the core committee of the ruling Akali Dal will decide the political offensive on Tuesday.
Following the Apex Court’s ruling last week, both the Akali Dal and the Congress have been attempting to checkmate each other by projecting themselves as the true champions of Punjab’s rights in inter-state water dispute with Haryana and Rajasthan.
The principal opposition party Congress’ legislators have already handed over their resignations to the Vidhan Sabha speaker, and the ruling Akali Dal-BJP government is exploring options to start legal and political battle.
The political strategy to be planned by the core committee, the think-tank and highest decision-taking panel, will be placed before the cabinet for approval. While the core committee will meet at 11.30 am here, the cabinet is scheduled to meet at 1pm on Tuesday ahead of the November 16 emergency session of the Vidhan Sabha.
Sources in the Akali Dal say that the contours of the legislative strategy for the emergency session will be based on the political decisions of the core committee.
“There is clarity on legal issues. But the issue before the party is which legal option is better-suited to extract the maximum political mileage. We are taking legal, political and administrative opinions. Which decision the government may take will be debated by the core committee,” a well-placed Akali Dal leader said.
The indications emerging are that the party is rethinking if the government should at all introduce a bill in the Wednesday’s session.
On Monday, a four-member team of Delhi-based lawyers, expert in inter-state water disputes, including Mohan Katarki and Rupinder Suri, briefed chief minister Parkash Singh Badal here on the legal options.
Sources say this team of lawyers had also briefed legal eagle Harish Salve, who had argued Punjab’s case on water dispute in the SC and is expected to come back from abroad on November 19.
“There is confusion on the stance government should take in the light of the SC order. The team of lawyers that met CM is of the opinion that the SC advice on three of the four questions about the presidential reference is unclear. We are fine-tuning our next legal, legislative and political moves,” said a source.
With an eye on the upcoming assembly polls, political posturing seems to be one of the main options before the Akali Dal. With SC declaring “unconstitutional” the 2004 Act, and the bill passed in March to return land acquired for the construction of SYL canal to the rightful owners awaiting governor’s assent, sound legal choices before the party patriarch Parkash Singh Badal are limited.
But political options before the master strategist Badal on the emotive SYL issue are plenty to rouse public passions and deflect voters’ attention from 10 years’ of anti-incumbency staring at the Akali Dal-BJP combine.
Guv summons session
Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore has summoned the special assembly session in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha hall at 10am on Wednesday, according to Shashi Lakhanpal Mishra, secretary, Punjab Vidhan Sabha. HTC