With the Supreme Court verdict on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal issue looming over the poll-bound Punjab, the Congress is now trying to steal the thunder of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
During his sangat darshan (public contact) programmes, the CM is asking people to be “ready for sacrifice ” and his speech in the Punjab assembly that the “state does not have even a drop of water to spare ” is playing on FM radio channels. The Congress is trying to counter the CM’s rhetoric, as there is a growing belief that the CM may resign if the Supreme Court ruling goes against Punjab and gain huge political capital out of the move.
In a press conference on Thursday, Congress chief spokesperson Sunil Jakhar and senior vice-president Lal Singh accused the CM of “provoking” people by asking them to “be ready to make sacrifices for Punjab waters”. “The sacrifice should begin at home. Badal should ask his daughter-in-law, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, to sacrifice her Union cabinet berth,” said Lal Singh.
Jakhar said that in February, the state cabinet had decided to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. “The Supreme Court verdict will not be binding on the Centre. So what stops Badal from asking Modi not to accept any adverse verdict?” Jakhar said. He alleged that the CM was spreading falsehood by claiming that the government had quashed clause 5 of the Punjab Termination of Rivers Water Act.
Reacting to CM’s jibe that he is resorting to “political gimmicks”, Jakhar said unlike the CM, he was offering to sit on fast-unto-death if the SYL construction began, and not asking people to be ready for sacrifice. “Badal can ask his son, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, to fast along with me. Why should people sacrifice for the CM’s follies? Either Badal is not opposing the Union cabinet decision on the SYL out of fear or he has reached a tacit understanding with the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) that rules neighbouring Haryana,” he alleged.