Within hours of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government filing written submissions in the Supreme Court siding with Haryana over the Sutlej-Yamuna Canal (SYL) issue, the government booted out its counsel saying his submissions were “unauthorised”, adding that he was an appointee of the previous Congress government. The Kejriwal government said it would make fresh submissions in the court on the matter.
Counsel Suresh Tripathy, representing Delhi Jal Board in the ongoing hearing of a Presidential reference in the matter, told the court that Punjab had gone beyond its legal competence in unilaterally passing the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, echoing Haryana’s stand on the issue.
The Delhi government’s submissions were criticised by the ruling SAD and Congress saying AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal had “shown” that he is son of Haryana and had no love for Punjab and its people.
The move has left the AAP red-faced once again, with the party having barely recovered from Kejriwal’s flip-flop on the issue. During his last visit to Punjab on March 15, Kejriwal had firmly backed Punjab’s stand saying the state had no water to share with anyone. Faced with ire from Haryana, his native state, Kejriwal went back on the statement a few days later, saying there should be no politics over water. His party men, led by Punjab incharge Sanjay Singh, also held a press conference trying to clarify that Kejriwal was not taking a stand against Haryana but was talking on “merit”.
In damage control mode, a press communication issued by the AAP on Friday evening said, “Before submitting the affidavit in the Supreme Court, the counsel has neither informed the chief executive operator nor the chairman of Jal Board, Kapil Mishra. The counsel submitted the same 11 paragraphs out of 12 submitted by the then Congress-led Delhi government in 2006. Delhi Jal Board does not agree with the written submissions filed by counsel Suresh Tripathy and has decided to remove him from its panel, who was appointed by the previous Congress government.”
Reacting to the AAP “mistake”, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, speaking in Amritsar, slammed Kejriwal for directing its counsel to side with Haryana. “Kejriwal should now apologise to the farmers of Punjab for making them believe that he supported their cause. There is nothing wrong in loving one’s native state (Haryana) or the adopted one (Delhi), but one should be open about it and not befool people,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also lambasted the AAP for supporting Haryana during the hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday. Bhattal said now the cat was out of the bag and the Delhi government’s stand on the SYL had exposed the doublespeak of the AAP leadership. Bhattal said she had earlier warmed that since Kejriwal belonged to Haryana, he would not protect Punjab’s interests on waters.