| Sonia: In the glare
New Delhi, July 14: The Congress high command is in a bit of a bother over the crisis that Punjab has triggered by scrapping water-sharing pacts with neighbouring states.
Party chief Sonia Gandhi can neither distance herself from the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government’s move nor endorse it.
Disagreeing with the government’s action would pose problems for an already troubled party unit in the state. An endorsement would draw adverse reactions in Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh — states affected by the annulment of the water-sharing agreements.
In Haryana, where the Congress did exceptionally well in the recent Lok Sabha elections, Assembly polls are due in about six months.
To wriggle out of the political jam, the high command today asserted it had no advance knowledge about Amarinder’s move to adopt a resolution in the Assembly to terminate all water-sharing pacts with neighbouring states.
The chief minister did not consult the “party central leadership”, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, when asked how the state government could have taken such a step without taking the high command into confidence.
Yesterday, Sharma was non-committal on whether Amarinder had consulted the high command.
Even senior leaders and functionaries, who were prepared to concede that Amarinder had briefed the high command about his government’s decision to convene a special Assembly session, said the chief minister acted on his own and in accordance with the interests of his state.
Amarinder, who arrived here last night for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, maintained he had not consulted the high command or the Centre. “I didn’t consult the Prime Minister or the party president before taking the decision as it would have embarrassed the leadership,” he told reporters in Parliament.
However, Amarinder, who has also met Sonia, virtually indicated that he was leaving it to the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter.
The bill terminating the water-share pacts was passed to circumvent a Supreme Court order asking the Centre to speed up work on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal so that Haryana, a non-riparian state, could get its share of river water. Amarinder said his government would take no action to rescind the resolution.
Neither Sharma nor any senior central leader would comment on the chief minister’s move. “The matter is very sensitive” and the Prime Minister was talking to all the chief ministers concerned to find a way out of the crisis, Sharma said.
The spokesperson also slammed the BJP’s attempts in the Lok Sabha earlier in the day to embarrass Sonia by demanding that she come clean on the controversy.