The silence of the otherwise vitriolic national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on the contentious issue of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal is deafening.
While his party leaders in Punjab have jumped into the fray launching an anti-SYL agitation at Kapuri village in Patiala on Friday afternoon, the AAP supremo, who belongs to Haryana, is fighting shy of taking a pro-Punjab stand on the water issue in which Delhi state is also a party.
No wonder Kejriwal, who is caught in a bind, has not expressed his own view on the matter, apart from a series of retweets on the subject on Thursday.
Having taken note of it, leaders of rival parties are taking potshots at him. State Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, who resigned from the Lok Sabha within minutes of the Supreme Court verdict, has asked Kejriwal to make his stand clear on the issue.
SAD leaders mocked at AAP supremo for his “shifting” stand on the issue. He first spoke in favour of Punjab saying that the state has no water to spare for anyone. Then in April, the Delhi government, through its Jal Board, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court favouring Haryana, opposing Punjab’s claim on the river waters. To avoid a political backlash, Kejriwal later sent the Jal Board counsel packing while assuring Punjabis that his government would file a fresh affidavit in the court. The new affidavit, however, said that the Delhi government had nothing to do with the dispute between Punjab and Haryana, but supported Punjab’s plea that the Supreme Court should refuse to give its opinion on the Presidential reference.
The clamour for Kejriwal to speak up is only sharpening. His party’s former convener in Punjab Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who is now heading the Apna Punjab Party (APP), too wants an answer from Kejriwal.
Bains brothers, Independent MLAs from Ludhiana, who are part of the Navjot Singh Sidhu-led Awaaz-e-Punjab, also made it clear on Thursday that there will be no tie-up with Kejriwal till he supports Punjab on the canal issue.
Remaining in the background, Kejriwal, however, has asked his Punjab team to make the most of this opportunity in the run-up to the high-stakes polls.
AAP state leaders held a press conference on Thursday vehemently opposing any move to take up construction of the SYL canal.
Supreme Court lawyer HS Phoolka, AAP candidate from Dakha, even went to the extent of saying that the construction of the canal would begin over his dead body.
Later, Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh issued a video message urging people to gather at Kapuri village in Patiala, where the party launched an indefinite morcha against the construction of the canal on Friday.