All 42 opposition Congress legislators in Punjab on Friday submitted their resignations over the Supreme Court decision on a presidential reference regarding a 2004 law on sharing of the Sutlej-Yamuna river waters.
The Congress also announced a statewide protest on November 13 over what it said was the state government’s failure to represent Punjab’s case strongly in the apex court, which declared as “unconstitutional” a Punjab assembly-passed 2004 law to deny Haryana its share in the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water.
On Thursday, the ruling Akali Dal announced a special one-day Punjab assembly session on November 16 to discuss the issue threadbare.
The 42 Congress legislators, including Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi, handed over their resignations to assembly Secretary Shashi Lakhanpal Mishra here in the absence of Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.
Senior Congress leaders Amarinder Singh, who announced his resignation as Lok Sabha member on Thursday, and Rajya Sabha members Partap Singh Bajwa and Ambika Soni accompanied the party legislators.
“(Chief Minister Parkash Singh) Badal has failed to protect the interests of Punjab’s people. We will stage a statewide protest on the issue on Sunday,” Amarinder Singh told reporters here.
“I am not in Parliament and our MLAs are not in the Vidhan Sabha. We will go to the people,” he said.
“Why is Badal not protecting Punjab’s interests? Is it because he has made a lot of money and doesn’t care what happens in his area,” Amarinder asked.
Parkash Singh Badal told reporters: “Our decision to not allow any water to flow out of the state is not a violation of the Supreme Court verdict. The most important thing for Punjab is to save its river waters.”
“We will fight for the state’s rights rather than run away. If we were to resign, Governor’s rule will be imposed. Who will then defend the rights of Punjab? We will do anything to oppose any attempt at building the SYL canal,” Badal’s son Sukhbir, who is the Deputy Chief Minister, said.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has announced a statewide agitation from December 8 and also called on President Pranab Mukherjee to request him not to accept the Supreme Court’s advice on the SYL issue, a senior Akali leader had told agencies.
At the initiative of the then Congress government headed by Amarinder Singh, the Punjab assembly had in 2004 unanimously passed the law terminating all the agreements with Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh and Delhi on the sharing of the waters of Sutlej-Yamuna rivers.
This Act was brought to tide over the January 15, 2002, apex court judgement and decree and subsequent judgement and order of June 4, 2004.