Akali redux: SAD plans Jabar Virodhi Lehar to corner Amarinder
With an eye on reinventing and rejuvenating itself in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are all set to launch a movement, called Jabar Vidrohi Lehar, to corner Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government. After the drubbing in the recent Assembly polls which saw SAD being relegated to the third place, no longer the main Opposition party, this move is being considered pivotal to their fortunes in the state.
The Akalis also do not want to let Amarinder set the agenda on the key political issues or to walk away with the crop loan waiver that he announced in the Budget Session of the Assembly. They are aiming for a much better performance in the forthcoming local body polls and also gearing up for proper preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Jabar Virodhi Lehar will get underway from Dera Baba Nanak on 25 July and will be raising a voice against the 'excesses' being committed against Akali workers by the Congressmen.
The Akalis will also play up the issue of the sharing of river waters and construction of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and intend to warn Amarinder not to barter away the interests of the state. The Akali leaders would also be visiting families affected by Congress 'excesses' across the state as a part of this new innitiative.
“We will start a mass movement to force the Congress government to stop its workers from targeting Akalis. We will form committees in all districts to help victims. We are also evolving a system to contest all false cases registered against our workers besides conducting an exercise to evaluate the extent of the false cases,” said SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Senior Akali leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said that following the launch of the programme at Dera Baba Nanak, Sukhbir would travel to Qadian on 26 July, Fatehgarh Churian on 27 July, Gurdaspur on 28 July and Batala on 1 August where he would address small meetings of workers to listen to their grievances.
Sukhbir would also visit and interact with families of party workers who have faced repression at the hands of Congressmen.
New plans, same aim
The decision to launch this movement was taken at SAD's core committee meeting held earlier this week. At this meeting, the former chief minister and Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal while talking on the SYL issue said – “We would like to make it clear to everyone that Punjab does not have any excess water and that there is no question of constructing of the SYL canal. This will not be allowed under any circumstances.”
The political affairs committee passed a resolution warning Amarinder to not agree to any negotiation with Haryana which would take away even one drop of water from Punjab.
Badal also announced that he would personally meet Akali workers to listen to their grievances twice a month for two days each at the party office. The first such set of meetings will take place on 1 and 2 August and then on 16 and 17 August.
The Akalis have also been airing their resentment against the Justice (Retired) Ranjit Singh Commission and Justice (Retired) Mehtab Singh Gill Commission formed by the Congress government to probe incidents of sacrilege of holy texts and registration of false cases under the Akali regime.
The political affairs committee has rejected both the Commissions saying that said no justice can be expected from the former judges who had always acted as Congress agents. Its resolution says that Ranjit Singh is not only the brother-in-law of Congress legislator Harpartap Ajnala, but is also known to show bias against the SAD as a serving judge.
In the case of Mehtab Singh, the committee has noted that his closeness to Amarinder can be seen from the fact that he had handed over his house to the Congress leader so as he could stay there during the Moga by-election.
The committee said the Commissions had also been compromised with as Amarinder had openly stated that they would find the SAD and its leaders guilty.
“This speaks volumes about their credibility. They should be wound up immediately,” the committee said.
Case in question
The Akalis, along with their ally BJP, have started taking on the Congress on the issue of alleged 'false' cases registered during their regime. The combine is saying that the Congress had first come up with a figure of one lakh false cases against them but later reduced the number to 30,000. When the then chief minister challenged them to give details, the Congress came up with only 30 cases.
The Akalis claim that even on these 30 cases, the SAD-BJP government had placed all the facts before the State Assembly and not a single false case could be found. According to them it was only then that the Congress leaders had to keep quiet and had raised no objections to the government’s version.
“The setting up of a commission on the same issue now is clearly a political after-thought dictated by political compulsions of the chief minister. Both these commissions are politically motivated and biased, with pre-manufactured findings. The party therefore out rightly rejects both these brazen attempts to divert people’s attention from mounting disgust and disillusionment against the total failure of the state government on all fronts,” the Akali resolution added.
The Akalis are also targeting the Amarinder government for not implementing its announcement of making education for girls free up to the PhD level.
Another issue being raked up by them is the failure of the Amarinder government to pay an unemployment allowance of Rs 2,500 to the youth which was a part of its poll promises.
The crucial loan waiver
Meanwhile, the Akalis are continuing to go hammer and tongs at the crop loan waiver announced by the government.
Attacking finance minister Manpreet Badal, his predecessor Bikram Singh Majithia has sought that Manpreet be booked for abetting farmer suicides by backstabbing the peasantry through a 'bogus' farm loan waiver promise made in the Congress party’s election manifesto headed by him.
Saying that the election manifesto was Manpreet Badal’s baby, Majithia asserted, “It can be surmised that Manpreet Badal included the complete farm loan waiver clause in the manifesto after due thought. Now, therefore, he cannot escape responsibility for the death of 120 farmers who committed suicide after realising he had no intention to honour the promise made to them.”
“The Congress kept buying time by instituting a committee to ‘study’ its promise and eventually came out with a fraudulent waiver which has also not been executed till now. From a promised loan waiver of Rs 90,000 crore, Amarinder promised to waive off Rs 20,000 crore but Manpreet Badal came out with a Rs 1,500 crore waiver in the state budget. But even this money is yet to be released to the farmers and no notification has been sent to banks to stop charging interest from farmers. This qualifies Manpreet Badal to be booked under the cheating clause also besides abetting suicide of farmers,” he said.
On the other hand, Amarinder met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday and sought a one-time settlement of the Rs 6,000 crore loans taken by the state’s farmers from the national and private banks.
He told Jaitley that such a settlement will benefit 4.5 lakh beleaguered farmers. He sought Jaitley's intervention to convert the Rs 6,000 crore loan into a term loan by giving requisite directions to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Amarinder said that of the total debt of small and marginal farmers waived by the state, Rs 3,600 crore relates to a loan from cooperatives, with the remaining Rs 6,000 crore coming from banks. He added that these banks have been giving unethical loans to the farmers, pushing them into a vicious cycle of debt.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen