"What About Water?": Arvind Kejriwal Faces SYL Canal Question Ahead Of Haryana Push

BJP's Kuldeep Bishnoi "dares" Arvind Kejriwal, who will be in Hisar with Punjab's Bhagwant Mann, to stand with Haryana in river-water dispute

'What About Water?': Arvind Kejriwal Faces SYL Canal Question Ahead Of Haryana Push

Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann to launch AAP's 'Make India Number 1' drive in Haryana on Sept 7. (File)

Chandigarh:

Ahead of AAP boss Arvind Kejriwal's Haryana visit as part of the party's national campaign — where Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann will be with him — the BJP has dared him to take a clear stand on water-sharing between the two states, in an apparent dig over the long-pending Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. 

"Will Arvind Kejriwal announce that Haryana will get its due share of river water?" said BJP's Kuldeep Bishnoi, who was with the Congress until recently. 

The canal, incomplete for four decades, is to take water from Sutlej in Punjab to the Yamuna, thus supplying it mainly to Haryana and some to Delhi. That's why the SYL question is a difficult one for all parties that have a presence in Punjab and Haryana, besides Delhi. Local units favour their respective states — such as Kuldeep Bishnoi's latest "dare" — while national leaders cite the Supreme Court's suggestion for a solution through talks.  

This dichotomy — parties call it "internal democracy" — leads to tricky questions.  

And that's what Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal faces on the eve of his two-day visit, particularly because Punjab's Bhagwant Mann will be next to him.

Mr Kejriwal's personal and political trajectories make it further tough for him — born in Haryana, he is Chief Minister of Delhi, while in Punjab the AAP sought votes in his name too. 

The AAP was in a bit of a fix some months ago when its Haryana in-charge Sushil Gupta said the party will ensure SYL's construction if it comes to power.

Today he told NDTV, "Both the CMs will be in Haryana tomorrow, and it will be better if they comment on it."  

Questions for Bhagwant Mann, too

The party's Punjab unit, unsurprisingly, has its own stance. "Punjab doesn't have enough water to share," said state AAP spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang. "The groundwater is also depleting," he added, "We said this in the North Zone Council meeting in Rajasthan earlier this year. It was chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. We think, instead of the SYL, extra water going to Pakistan should be channeled to other states." 

While Arvind Kejriwal has not reacted yet, Bhagwant Mann is also quiet but faces his own set of questions in Punjab.  

The Centre recently told the Supreme Court that the Punjab Chief Minister has not responded to its letter for a meeting with Haryana's Manohar Lal Khattar and the Union Jal Shakti Minister, which the court had suggested for an amicable solution. 

"Why is Bhagwant Mann not taking a clear stand, that Punjab will not give water?" asked Shiromani Akali Dal's Daljit Singh Cheema, reacting to the court hearing, "Is he afraid of upsetting Arvind Kejriwal?"  

The SYL is so touchy a subject in Punjab, that a song on it by Sidhu Moose Wala — released after his death recently — became a flashpoint. 

AAP eye on Adampur

As for the AAP's Haryana push, as part of a two-day programme, Mr Kejriwal and Mr Mann will hold a rally as part of its 'Make India Number One' campaign at Hisar on September 7. They will later interact with young voters in a party-arranged townhall.  

Next day, they will take part in a Tiranga Yatra in Adampur, which is likely to see a bypoll soon.  

Adampur is the seat that Kuldeep Bishnoi left after making a switch from Congress to BJP. That's a factor in Mr Bishnoi's latest quip over the SYL, seeking to push Arvind Kejriwal's party onto the backfoot already.  

The AAP, which plans to contest the state's upcoming panchayat and municipal polls, will hope to enter the assembly as well, via Adampur. 

Community combinations play a key role. That adds value to Arvind Kejriwal, from the Bania caste, and Bhagwant Mann, a Jat, coming together for the AAP campaign. 

Mr Kejriwal may also meet the late actor and BJP leader Sonali Phogat's family who have been demanding a CBI probe into her death in Goa last month. 

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