INLD looks for political survival with blockade call, but will it help? (News Analysis)

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Chandigarh, July 9 (IANS) It has been over 13 years that Haryana’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has been out in the wilderness. The party has tried every trick possible to come back to power but has been trounced in three successive elections – twice by the Congress and once by the BJP.

For its political survival, the INLD leadership has begun resorting to tactics that inconvenience the public more than help build a case for the party.

The party’s call for stopping vehicles from Punjab from entering Haryana on Monday (July 10) to push for the SYL canal is one such political call that its leadership has taken.

It is the second time within six months that the INLD is resorting to a political gimmick over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue that is set to inconvenience the public majorly.

The INLD is planning to stop vehicles from Punjab at five major entry points to Haryana. This will mean that all vehicles coming not only from Punjab but also from Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh will be stopped.

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This will put commuters to a lot of harassment in this sweltering weather. At a time when admissions to colleges and universities are in full swing, thousands of students and parents could also be affected on the first day of the week.

“Except for a few brownie points within its cadre in Haryana and getting some footage on news channels, the INLD’s protest has no substance or reason. It defies logic also. What are they trying to prove,” Vijay Gupta, a social activist in Punjab’s Patiala district, told IANS.

The protest is being held though the Supreme Court is seized of the SYL canal matter.

The apex court in November last year ruled in favour of Haryana on the issue of sharing river waters with Punjab through the SYL canal. The INLD is demanding that the Centre and both state governments (Punjab and Haryana) implement the Supreme Court decision to get the SYL canal constructed.

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Even non-implementation of the Supreme Court ruling, which Punjab blocked by way of a legislation, is being looked into by the court. The next hearing of the matter incidentally is on July 11 — a day after the INLD blockade.

On February 23, the INLD hyped its ‘water war’ with Punjab and took thousands of activists towards Punjab. It was announced that the INLD will start digging the SYL canal.

The whole exercise ended as a damp squib with the INLD leaders and activists only making a symbolic presence on the Haryana-Punjab border. Even this protest affected life in some districts in Haryana and Punjab as the INLD assembled people who came in tractor-trolleys, trucks and buses.

“The Supreme Court is seized of the matter (SYL canal). The Haryana government is fighting the case in court. The INLD need not carry out any protest on the issue,” said Haryana Minister Ram Bilas Sharma.

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For the July 10 blockade, the Haryana and Punjab Police have lined up thousands of security personnel to maintain law and order. Traffic is likely to be diverted at several places.

The INLD leadership should understand that such “pedestrian gimmicks”, even for an emotive issue like SYL canal and water sharing, are unlikely to whip up sentiments in Haryana to get the party back to power, said a political analyst.

Times have changed since 2004, when the INLD was last in power. The party will have to come up with more positive and out-of-the-box ideas to sustain itself politically, experts feel.



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