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July 25, 2000
Akali Dal, Punjab Congress to oppose Uttarakhand Bill
The Shiromani Akali Dal, a constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance, and the Punjab unit of the Congress said they would oppose the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2000 slated for introduction in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament). According to the bill, the districts of Hardwar and Udham Singh Nagar will become part of Uttarakhand.
Leaders of both parties along with inhabitants of Udham Singh Nagar took out a protest march to Parliament to protest the move. They argued that the criteria for inclusion of any area in the proposed hill state was that it should be 540 metres above the sea level, which did not apply to Udham Singh Nagar district. It stands only 220 metres above sea level.
Speaking at the rally, SAD general secretary Balwinder Singh Bhundar said his party MPs would 'boycott' the introduction of the bill. Punjab Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, part of the three-member high-powered committee looking into the issue, had made it clear that the Bill should not be presented in Parliament till the committee submits its report, Bhundar said.
Badal drew flak for not preventing the Bill from being listed for introduction in Parliament.
Addressing the protesters, Punjab Congress chief Capt. Amrinder Singh said he would ask his party MPs to oppose the bill in Parliament. However, the party's UP unit has already announced its support to the inclusion.
Both Capt Singh and Bhundar said, ''Punjabis constitute 60 per cent of the population. Besides, 305 out of the 327 gram panchayats in the district have already adopted resolutions for remaining in UP as the agro-based industry in the area is dependent on raw material from the state.''
A large number of Punjabis settled in the district after Partition, and both the Akali Dal and the Congress cannot ignore their demands.
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