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INLD prepares for a water assault on BJP government in Haryana

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 12 April 2018, 20:35 IST
(Arya Sharma)

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is all set to launch a water assault on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana. INLD, which is the main Opposition party in the state at present, plans to launch a series of agitations across the state on the water woes next month. The party will be launching a 'Jail Bharo' agitation from May 1 and at the top of this would be its agitation on early construction of the Satluj Yamuna Canal (SYL) canal to get its water share from Punjab.

Haryana is a state that will go to both the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls next year. The Assembly elections will follow the Lok Sabha in just a few months. It is a state that has till now been witnessing a triangular contest between the Congress, the BJP and the INLD but this time around Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also expected to be a fourth contender.

The INLD is a party that has a strong rural base, particularly in the Jat heartland. It has the advantage of inheriting the political legacy of an iconic farmers' leader Chaudhary Devi Lal. Over the last more than one year it has been trying to build a political narrative around the issue of water scarcity in Haryana. It has been particularly playing up the issue of the SYL canal. With a Congress regime in power in neighbouring Punjab and a BJP led central government in the centre, raising the noise decibel on the issue is otherwise also a good ideological move as it helps the party attain an aggressive posture against its two political rivals in Haryana.

Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Abhay Singh Chautala has spelt out an elaborate programme on taking the water assault forward.

The Jail Bharo agitation will start from the party's strong hold of Bhiwani on May 1. Thereafter the agitation will be held on May 4 in Yamunanagar, May 8 in Nuh, May 11 in Sirsa, May 15 in Narnaul, 18 at Kurukshetra, , May 22 in Fatehabad, May 22 in Palwal and May 29 in Kaithal.

“We are warning the ruling government that once the agitation starts it will face difficulties in finding places to keep our arrested cadres as all the schools, colleges and stadiums will fall short of space,” he said.

He further added that the party will not only focus on SYL alone. “We are also going to take up the issues of the Dadupur Nalvi canal project that was scheduled to carry water to the parched areas from the northern part along with Mewat canal that would benefit the parched areas of Mewat region, Palwal and Gurugram,” he said.

The Dadupur Nalvi canal project was shelved by the Manohar Lal Khattar led BJP government in the state last year after more than Rs 300 crores had been spent on it since its inception. The scheme had been initiated in 1985 and the project was approved by the government for Rs 13 crore for irrigation and recharging of ground water in Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Ambala districts. Both the INLD and the Congress have been attacking the Khattar government for its move.

Similarly while the Mewat canal was reportedly announced more than a decade ago, the region continues to be deprived of water.

Chautala has the BJP government at the centre of diverting the attention of the people from the real issue of SYL by coming out with statements on diverting the water flow to Pakistan and using it for Punjab and Haryana. He was referring to the reported statement made by union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari in Rohtak last month where he had said hat the government would stop the Indian share of water flowing to Pakistan through Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers.

Chautala has pointed that the real issue is completion of construction of SYL canal. “Instead of focusing on this, the BJP is trying to inject extraneous and peripheral issues. However, the INLD and the people of Haryana will not be diverted from the real issue and will make every effort to bring Haryana’s share of river water to the state,” he said.

The INLD has asked Khattar to convene an all party meeting on the SYL issue to chalk out
a strategy on how to take up the concerns of the state with the Centre. “If the government will not convene this meeting, we will hold one with all the political parties in the state,” he said.

The INLD will also be raising the other concerns of the farmers during its proposed agitation on water. Chautala has accused the Khattar government of encouraging those who are 'looting' the farmers. He said that in the face of shoddy procurement mechanism by the government the farmers are compelled to sell their mustard produce to private players far below the minimum support price (MSP) announced for it. “Against the MSP of Rs 4000 per quintal, the farmers are compelled to sell their produce at Rs 3200 to Rs 3400 per quintal. I have seen farmers selling their produce at Rs 2850 per quintal at Nuh,” he said.

Referring to the unseasonal rains that threatens the wheat crop, the INLD has demanded that the government go in for immediate procurement along with a bonus of Rs 200 per quintal to the farmers. The party has demanded a special girdwari (survey) of the crop loss and an appropriate compensation against the same.

First published: 12 April 2018, 20:35 IST