Amarinder flays Akalis for celebrating Punjabi suba golden jubilee

Chandigarh, Nov 1 (IANS) Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Tuesday questioned the state government’s action of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Punjabi suba.

“The creation of the Punjabi suba (state) was the second Partition for Punjabis after 1947. The Akalis (Shiromani Akali Dal) have worked to shrink Punjab to fulfil their own sectarian agenda. What is there to celebrate of the occasion that laid the foundations of the continuous decline of Punjab?” Amarinder said in a statement here.

“Rather, it should be a moment of penance and atonement for the Akalis, who got the state shrunk in such a manner so as to deprive it of rich resources and growth prospects that went to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Haryana,” he said.

The Congress leader said with the carving out of separate states of Himachal and Haryana on November 1, 1966, not only did Punjab lose 80 lakh acres of land, but also lost precious resources like water, hydroelectricity and forests and tourism potential.

Haryana prospered on the back of industrial growth, particularly in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Panipat areas while Punjab was left struggling with a legacy of festering disputes, including the demand for Chandigarh as its exclusive capital and a commitment to provide Haryana with precious water, he said.

“Punjab is yet to rid itself of the baggage it inherited from the second Partition in 1966. Never in the history have people of a state volunteered to reduce their land area instead of expanding it. And the very Akalis responsible for this shameful deed are now brazenly celebrating the occasion,” Amarinder said.

“What’s more, sharing the platform with the Akalis are leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the new face of the erstwhile Jan Sangh, which opposed the formation of the Punjabi suba tooth and nail,” the former Chief Minister said.

The Punjab government on Tuesday culminated three weeks of celebrations with a grand event in Amritsar.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP President Amit Shah participated in the event with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and others.