Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows when and where to raise an issue. The prime minister who was in Bhatinda to attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of a new Aiims hospital made maximum use of the opportunity to do some pre-poll promotion for the Bhartiya Janata Party, highlighting his party's stand on some burning topics like the Indus Water Treaty and how the government has given a befitting reply to Pakistan after the Uri attack in September.
While stressing on the need for farmers to get an adequate supply of water, Modi said that India has the right to use the water flowing to Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty, "The water is India's right which flows into Pakistan. (After) flowing through Pakistan, the water goes into the sea. That water belongs to the Indian farmers. We will do whatever we can to give enough water to our farmers," Modi said, IANS reported on Friday.
Punjab has been facing water scarcity for some years now with a depleting ground water level, and an ongoing tussle with the state of Haryana on sharing water from river Sutlej as part fo the Sutlej Yamnua Link canal, which Punjab has been resisting to build. So far parties like Shiromani Akali Dal, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party have clearly stated their stand that they are against the construction of the canal link, whereas BJP has mainly remained silent.
With Punjab being one of the states going for state Assembly election in early 2017, water has emerged as a hot topic of debate, once again, right before the election.
Now, the prime minster's statement that India won't allow water that belongs to it to flow into Pakistan, is likely to tip the balance in BJP's favour. And this is exactly what Modi did on Friday. "We formed a task force on Indus water treaty to ensure farmers of Punjab and other states get each drop of water due to them," said the prime minister.
Modi was speaking after laying the foundation of a new Aiims centre in Bhatinda. The 750-bedded Aiims will be set up with an outlay of Rs 925 crore and it would be spread over 177 acres of land on the Bathinda-Dabwali road. The land has been given by the state government, and is expected to be completed by June 2020.
The Indus Waters Treaty gives Pakistan exclusive rights to use waters from three western rivers of the Indus river system — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum — whereas India gets exclusive rights to use waters from the three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi.
Ever since the Uri attack took place in September earlier this year, voices threatening to break the Indus Water Treaty have become louder, and has emerged as a new strategy for India to push Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism in India.
The PM also highlighted how India has given a befitting reply to Pakistan since the attack in Uri camp: "We made them realise the strength of our armed forces," the prime minister said referring to the "surgical strike" that was carried out by the India following Uri.
— With agency inputs