M A I N   N E W S

“What do you think...,” PM pulls up Capt
Amarinder seeks appointment with Sonia
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
A day after he was reprimanded by an angry Prime Minister, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today spent the whole day in the Capital explaining his compulsions for passing the Bill terminating the water sharing accords with neighbouring states.

Besides Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi is also learnt to be furious with Mr Amarinder Singh for having taken this unilateral step and unnecessarily creating a problem for the Central Government.

Their anger stems from the fact that the Chief Minister did not bother to consult the Centre or the party president before taking such a far-reaching decision. Mrs Gandhi, it is learnt, is particularly upset as the water sharing agreement was part of the historic Rajiv-Longowal accord and Mr Amarinder Singh’s move nullifies that very agreement.

Describing it as “complete defiance” on the part of the Chief Minister, Congress insiders disclosed that Mr Amarinder Singh did not even respond to their telephone calls when they wanted clarifications after they learnt of the special Assembly session.

Capt Amarinder Singh has sought a meeting with Mrs Gandhi to explain his position but he is yet to be given an appointment. Meanwhile, AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni, Rajya Sabha MP Sukhbans Bhinder and Lok Sabha member Preneet Kaur did meet Mrs Gandhi yesterday to brief her on this issue.

Although he does not loose his temper easily, Dr. Singh is learnt to have pulled up the Punjab Chief Minister in no uncertain terms at yesterday’s meeting.

“What do you think... whatever your logic for taking this step, I am not going to endorse it,” a fuming Prime Minister is reported to have told Capt Amarinder Singh. He also upbraided him for the fact that he kept him and the Congress President in the dark on this issue. “Are we running a country or what ... We will not allow the mockery of the Constitution,” he reportedly added.

On his part, the Punjab Chief Minister admitted he had not consulted the Congress President or the Prime Minister before going ahead with the proposed legislation as he did not wish to embarrass them. “Why involve them in an inter-state dispute,” he added.

He said he had told the PM that he took this decision to protect the interests of the state and after consulting legal experts, including former Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee.” I explained my position to the PM...I told him that I had done what I had to do from the state perspective. The PM will have to decide keeping in view the national perspective,” Capt Amarinder Singh added. He said they will continue to fight for their interests even if it is struck down by the Supreme Court.

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