Thursday, June 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SAD for ‘true federal India’
By Gobind Thukral
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH , June 28 — The ruling Akali Dal shall press hard its political demand to create "a true federal India". It has no intentions to back out from its earlier resolution on autonomy passed at the famous Ludhiana conference in 1978.

The Akali Dal President and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, one of the architects of this resolution here declared that his party stood firmly for a true federal India.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Badal said it was time for the country to go in for a federal structure." The unitary Constitution and the repeated attempts by the Congress during the past many years have reduced the States to a surrogate position. It has impeded development and the States have been reduced to a beggar's position", he said.

But Mr Badal would not touch the Anandpur Sahib resolution even with a barge pole. Repeatedly asked what he meant by a true federal constitutional structure, and whether he still supported the Anandpur Sahib resolution, Mr Badal repeated his assertion, "We shall explain what the true federal India means .If you persist with your question, look at the Ludhiana conference resolution. Tohra Sahib is also a party to that resolution".

While commenting on the ticklish issue in view of the autonomy resolution passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, Mr Badal had the comments of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra in mind. " We have constituted a committee of experts and this would meet in Delhi on July 4 to discuss the whole issue. Well known constitutional experts would be there to plead our case. It is necessary to have them in order to put forward the right kind of arguments," he said.

Mr Badal is a member of the ministerial level committee constituted by the Centre. Mr Badal who was critical of the Congress was, however, happy that a Congress Chief Minister, Mr Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan has taken up the issue of more powers for the states. "When we started the demand way back in 1973 ( the first Anandpur Sahib resolution ) not many supported us. In fact, the Congress opposed it and created a more unitary form of government. Delhi concentrated more powers with it and reduced the States to the level of beggars", he said.

Mr Badal does not think there is any need to pass any formal resolution in the Punjab Assembly. The issue of autonomy has been debated there.

Asked to comment on the Kashmir Assembly resolution ( the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdulah is his personal friend), Mr Badal said, "No one is our enemy except the Congress. We only oppose that party. It has ruined Punjab and other States", he maintained

There has been confusion on the Anandpur Sahib resolution and the one passed at the Ludhiana conference where the late Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale tried to oppose it and was effectively shouted down. This resolution later became the basis of Sarkaria Commission's investigation into the Centre- State relations as the Punjab accord with the Akalis in July 1985 had laid the basis for this Commission.

Mr Badal pleaded that the issue should not be blown out as it was a sensitive matter that needed careful consideration at all levels.

The burning issue of the Centre- state relations was the focus of three major resolutions by the Akali Dal. One resolution to which Mr Badal referred today was moved by Mr Tohra on October 29, 1978 and seconded by Mr Badal. It talked about the earlier two resolutions at Batala and Anandpur Sahib. This resolution said, "To safeguard the Fundamental Rights of the religious and linguistic minorities, to fulfil the demands of the democratic traditions and to pave the way for economic progress. It has become imperative that the Indian constitutional infrastructure should be given a real federal shape by redefining the Central and State relations and rights".

It further said, " The climax of the process of centralisation of powers of the States through repeated amendments of the Constitution during the Congress regime came before the countrymen in the form of Emergency, when all Fundamental Rights of all citizens were usurped. It was then that the programme of decentralisation of powers ever advocated by the Shiromani Akali Dal was openly accepted and adopted by other political parties including the Janata Party, CPM, ADMK etc."

"The Shiromani Akali Dal has ever stood firm on this principle and that is why after every careful considerations it unanimously adopted a resolution to this effect first at all India Akali Conference, Batala then at Sri Anandpur Sahib which has endorsed the principle of State autonomy in keeping with the concept of federalism," it added.

The earlier resolution signed by the then long time secretary of the Akali Dal late Kulwant Singh had specifically said, " In this new Punjab and in other States the Centre's interference would be restricted to defence , foreign relations, currency and general communication; all other departments would be in the jurisdiction of Punjab ( and other States ) which would be fully entitled to frame own laws on these subjects for administration. For the above departments of the Centre , Punjab and other States contribute in proportion to representation in Parliament. " Back

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