M A I N   N E W S

Captainís fate hangs in balance
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's fate hangs in balance.

Having drawn flak from the Central party leadership for the unilateral abrogation of the inter-state river water treaties, Capt Amarinder Singh is now in the firing line for his subsequent public statements virtually holding the Centre to ransom in case his decision is overturned by the Supreme Court.

Although Congress insiders had earlier maintained that the party will await the Supreme Court verdict on the river water issue before taking any decision on Capt Amarinder Singh's future, it now appears that the leadership may not be willing to wait till then. Congress leaders do not rule out the possibility of Capt Amarinder being asked to step down. However, they denied reports that he had already quit.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in charge of Punjab, also conveyed his unhappiness over Capt Amarinder Singh's move. "In a federal set-up when you belong to an all-India party and on an issue which affects the interests of more than one state, our actions and observations should be in conformity with the stand of an all-India party," Mr Mukherjee told Press persons today. However, he denied that that the Chief Minister had been asked to quit or had tendered his resignation.

Capt Amarinder Singh has been publicly telling the media that he had severe differences with the Prime Minister on his move on termination of water treaties but he was willing to risk his political career on this matter. Stating that he would not compromise on this issue, the Chief Minister also warned that Punjab could witness the revival of terrorism if the Supreme Court verdict went against the state Act.

Highly placed Congress sources disclosed that though the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were angry with Capt Amarinder Singh for his unilateral action, his non-stop public defence of this action has angered them further.

It was evident today that AICC General Secretary Janardhan Diwedi's public remarks yesterday that Mr Amarinder Singh's statements were unbecoming of a Chief Minister and that the party had taken serious note of these, were a clear signal to the Chief Minister.

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma also endorsed Mr Diwedi's remark, stating that he had spoken in his capacity as AICC General Secretary and his observation was in conformity with the views expressed by the party. He was, however, non-committal when his attention was drawn to the speculation that Capt Amarinder Singh had sent in his resignation. Mr Sharma maintained: "Mr Amarinder Singh is the Chief Minister and he is in office...I do not want to tread in the realm of speculation."

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