Political and Legal Aspects of the Sutlej Water Dispute

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), November 12, 2016 | Go to article overview

Political and Legal Aspects of the Sutlej Water Dispute


New Delhi/Chandigarh, Nov. 11 -- The war over water in Punjab is generally viewed from the Akali-Congress perspective. But the catch is in its legal nuances-and the Aam Aadmi Party's bid for equity in the emerging emotive space.

"As AAP has no baggage from history in the State, it can draw no political advantage from the issue inherited from history," argued Chandigarh-based political scientist Pramod Kumar. In contrast, the two traditional rivals have enough arrows to draw from history's quiver; the water-sharing dispute between Punjab and Haryana having festered since the reorganization of states in 1966.

To identify with the popular rage water-sharing arouses in the agrarian State, the Congress has taken the path of renunciation and the Akalis of defiance. Capt Amarinder Singh resigned from the Amritsar seat he had in the Lok Sabha while his party legislators quit the state assembly. The Akalis under Chief Minister PS Badal refused to accept the view the Supreme Court tendered in response to the 2004 presidential reference.

Amarinder and Badal cancel each other out in terms of political dividend: the law declared unconstitutional was passed when Amarinder was CM; Badal refuses to accept the court's view on the law bequeathed by his predecessor and political rival.

Struggling for stakes in the ongoing tussle, AAP has chosen to replicate the Akali protests of yore at Kapoori in Patiala. The venue is significant. It was there that Indira Gandhi inaugurated the construction of the SYL canal in 1982, triggering the Akalis' "Kapoori Morcha" against the canal that's still incomplete.

There's intense speculation that the Akali defiance of the Court may push it to President's rule. …

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