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Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann dares Opposition leaders for open debate on issues concerning Punjab

The CM dared Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and the leader of Opposition in Punjab assembly, Partap Singh Bajwa, and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal for a debate

PTI Chandigarh Published 08.10.23, 02:44 PM
Bhagwant Mann

Bhagwant Mann File picture

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Sunday challenged the BJP, Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal for an open debate on issues pertaining to the state on November 1, amid opposition parties' criticism over the issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

Punjab's opposition parties have attacked the Aam Aadmi Party government following the Supreme Court directive on October 4, asking the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab that was allocated for construction of part of the canal and make an estimate of the extent of construction carried out there.


Mann dared Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and the leader of opposition in Punjab assembly, Partap Singh Bajwa, and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal for a debate.

In their replies, the opposition leaders accepted Mann's challenge but again slammed the AAP government over the SYL issue.

Mann in a post on X wrote, “It is an open invitation to (Punjab) BJP president Jakhar ji, Sukhbir Singh Badal of Akali Dal, Raja Warring, Partap Bajwa of Congress that instead of squabbling every day, come and sit in front of the people of Punjab and the media for a live debate on who carried out the loot and how was it done.” He called for a live debate on all issues ranging from nepotism, toll plazas and sharing of Sutlej river's water.

"Brothers-nephews, brother-in-laws, friends, toll plazas, youth, farming, trade, shopkeepers, 'Gurbani', river water let us have a live debate on all issues," he said posted on X in Punjabi.

"You may bring papers along with you but I will just speak. November 1 'Punjab Day' will be a good day (for the debate). You will get enough time for preparation. I am fully prepared as I do not need to cram things for speaking the truth," Mann added.

Later in a statement, the CM said that the hands and souls of these leaders are “drenched in blood' of the state as they have betrayed Punjab and its people.

People of the state can never forgive these leaders for their “sins” against Punjab, he said, asking these leaders to prepare well for the proposed debate where he will expose them for their “misdeeds.”

Responding to Mann, Punjab BJP chief Jakhar said that he was ready for a debate on every issue of Punjab.

First of all, you tell us that under what pressure, or for which political interests, you knelt before the Supreme Court on the serious issue of Punjab's waters. Punjab seeks an answer, said Jakhar on X.

SAD chief Badal too said he accepted his challenge. “November 1 is still far away. I am coming to your house in Chandigarh on October 10. If you have the courage, you must come out and meet. We will hold talks on every issue of the state, including waters of Punjab, that too in front of all the media,” said Badal.

Badal also asked the CM to bring AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal also, saying he is the “real” chief minister of Punjab while calling Mann as “pawn.” The SAD has announced that it will 'gherao' Mann's official residence in Chandigarh on October 10 over the SYL issue.

Punjab Congress chief Warring slammed Mann, accusing him of trying to divert the issue and said it would have been better had he called leaders of all political parties and farmer leaders for a meaningful discussion over the SYL issue.

Warring also posed questions to Mann, asking him the rise in the rate registration of criminal cases in the past one-and-a-half year, details pertaining to rise in drugs related cases, state debt, number of farmers' suicides, expenditure on advertisements and compensation to flood-hit people.

Congress leader Bajwa, in his post on X, said he accepted Mann's challenge but added the debate should be held at a common place instead of at any government building (Vidhan Sabha). The debate should be led by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a person on whom political parties agree, he said.

The Mann government has been facing criticism from the opposition parties over the SYL issue. Punjab BJP on Saturday had held a protest, accusing the AAP government of failing to safeguard the state's interest on river water.

The state government in the apex court stated that the government was ready to build the canal but the opposition parties and farmers were opposing it, Jakhar had claimed on Saturday.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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