With the Punjab assembly polls due early next year, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday upped the ante over river-water sharing with neighbouring Haryana, saying Punjab will not spare a single drop of water no matter what the court ruling says.
“My government will not accept the ruling of any court on sharing of river water and we are ready for any sacrifice for this, be it facing bullets or going to jail,” Badal said while addressing a state-level event to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Punjabi Suba.
With Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah on the dais, Badal sought their attention and said Punjab wants ‘insaaf’ (justice) and not compensation.
The Supreme Court verdict on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, which was to link the two rivers in these states, is likely to be out soon. The SYL, which was to link both rivers in these states, has been a bone of contention for over three decades. Punjab maintains that it has no water to spare for other states. Haryana, which has a BJP government since October 2014, is awaiting the apex court verdict on the water sharing issue. In Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal, of which Badal is the patron, has an alliance government with the BJP since 2007.
The CM said despite making sacrifices and contributing in the nation’s development, Punjab was facing discrimination. “Be it the transfer of Chandigarh or the Punjabi-speaking areas, Punjab has been cheated,” he added.
Blaming the Congress governments at the Centre for failing to resolve the inter-state issues, Badal hoped that the Narendra Modi-led government would resolve the disputes on priority. He also urged Jaitley and Shah to deliver prompt justice rather than making any favour to Punjab.
He said the Congress had betrayed Punjab since the times of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who had promised to create the Punjabi Suba on linguistic lines.
“How can we forget and forgive the Congress for Operation Bluestar and the killing of innocent Sikhs in 1984?” he questioned.
JAITLEY SLAMS CONG FOR 1984 RIOTS
Targeting the Congress for the anti-Sikh riots, Jaitley said 1984 would be remembered as the “year of destruction” and the term of the Badal government as the “era of reconstruction”.
He said that terrorism in the state was an outcome of the wrong policies of the then Congress government, which tormented the state beyond anyone’s imagination. “The blot of 1984 carnage, frequent dismissal of democratically elected governments and terrorism spoke volumes of Congress’ dubious character,” he said.
PUNJAB YOUTH KNOWN FOR SUPREME SACRIFICES: SHAH
Counting the sacrifices and role Punjabis in nation building over the years, BJP chief Amit Shah said it was unfortunate that those who term Punjab youth ‘nasheri’ (addicts) were seeking mandate in the state. “Those who cannot be proud of Punjab’s youth and bravery don’t deserve any right to seek vote,” he said.
Congratulating the people of Punjab on the historic day said, Shah said: “I bow my head in reverence to great Gurus, saints and seers of this sacred land who have blessed it with an aura of divinity, spirituality and brotherhood.”
Punjab is the heart of the country and has a supreme legacy of self-sacrifice. Valiant Punjabi soldiers proved their mettle and made supreme sacrifice in the 1962 Sino-Indian war, 1965, 1971 wars with Pakistan and the Kargil conflict.
Shah also appealed to the people to give another term to the SAD-BJP alliance for all-round development of the state.
STRUGGLE FOR RIGHTS TO CONTINUE: SUKHBIR
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said though every Punjabi was elated on the 50th anniversary of the Punjabi Suba, the pain of 1984, when innocent Sikhs were massacred, still haunts them as the perpetrators of the crime were still to be punished.
He said several states were carved out on linguistic basis after Independence, but Punjab was an exception due to the discriminatory attitude of the then Congress government.
“Punjab was deprived of its capital, share in river water and Punjabi-speaking areas. We will continue to struggle for our rights,” he added.
State BJP chief Vijay Sampla; Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Punjab cabinet ministers Bikram Singh Majithia, Daljit Singh Cheema, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Anil Joshi and Janmeja Singh Sekhon; MP Shawet Malik; former BJP president Kamal Sharma and MLAs, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee members and SAD-BJP leaders were also present.
The government also honoured Punjabi Suba movement activists and their families on the occasion.