Thursday, February 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Badal contests BJP’s claim on SYL canal issue

PHAGWARA, Feb 9 (PTI) — Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today contested BJP general secretary Narendra Modi’s claim that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had offered to mediate between Haryana and Punjab to resolve the issue of water sharing through Sutlej Yamuna Link canal (SYL) on the line of Cauvery.

The Punjab Chief Minister said “He (as the Chief Minister of the party involved and part of the NDA) has not been informed about any such offer.” Mr Modi had yesterday declared that Prime Minister had assured to a delegation of Haryana BJP office-bearers and MP’s and MLA’s of the dissolved Assembly that he would take personal initiative to resolve the dispute on the sharing of the river water, share of which is to be given through Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) to Haryana.

Our correspondent adds: Mr Badal has denied reports in a section of the press that he had been in contact with Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC Chief, who had gone into “ekantvas” (seclusion).

Addressing a press conference at local Indian Autos Guest House where he is camping these days, Mr Badal denied that he had met the Bibi in a gurdwara near Jagroan. I am so busy in electioneering for Nawanshahr byelection that I have not even gone beyond Ludhiana, he quipped. When asked whether he would intervene after February 17, the day of Nawanshahr polling, to resolve the religio-political crisis following Akal Takht Jathedar and Jagir Kaur’s stand-off, Mr Badal sounded non-committal and said merely that he would see.

On the allegations of corruption levelled by PPCC President Captain Amarinder Singh against Mr Badal and his family, Mr Badal offered to quit politics if even one allegation was proved true. Declaring that a legal notice had been served on the Captain, Mr Badal asserted Mr Amarinder had stooped to low-level smear-politics by becoming very personal. It is not my habit to hit back in the kind of language that my opponents use against me, continued Mr Badal. When reminded that the PPCC Chief had stuck to his stand and asked Mr Badal to file case of defamation, Mr Badal claimed that the case had been filed in a proper legal way.

He said the piece of land in Haryana was taken away by the Congress and we got it back through High Court and Supreme Court ruling, I have no property in Chanakyapuri Delhi as has been alleged by Mr Amarinder, he continued. On the Captain’s claim that he could prove his allegations of corruption in a court of law or before any other forum, Mr Badal retorted the Captain was welcome. On counter defamation move by the PPCC against on Badal for dubbing the previous Congress regime corrupt, Mr Badal quipped that he was prepared for it.

On the misuse of official machinery and threats to voters that EVMs would disclose nature of voting, Mr Badal counter-charged that it was Congress leaders, particularly Mr Amarinder Singh, who were threatening official with dire consequences. Saying it was a case of “ulta chor kotwal ko dantey” Mr Badal said anybody can ask any officials including the SSP or the DSP as to whether I had ever said something to them. It is not my nature to say even a harsh word to officers who are disposed favourably to my opponents, add Mr Badal. It was the Maharaja ji who was threatening officers that they would be taught a lesson when the Congress came to power, said the Badal.

On electronic voting machines I had never said that these would disclose pattern of voting but simply told voters the way of their operation clarified Mr Badal. When the Maharaja was with us, we were “doodh dhotey” (clean) but now we have become all bad, wondered Mr Badal. He accused his opponents including Mr Amarinder Singh, Jathedar GS Tohra, Mr SS Mann of suffering from Badal phobia. The Tohra-Mann duo would rather hang me in a ‘chowk’ if they could, said Mr Badal sarcastically.

When asked what had gone wrong with the otherwise vote — catcher Mr Badal that the SAD had lost in the Lok Sabha and earlier in Adampur, Mr Badal claimed we would win Nawanshahr - polls hands down and that our populist measures had not backfired.

Mr Badal did not oppose the idea to discontinue rail and bus services between India and Pakistan in case these services created any law or order problem or went against our national interest. He also assured Sikhs fleeing Afghanistan to take up the issue with the PM.

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