(Says decision to extend central rules to Chandigarh employees a fall out of CM Bhagwant Mann’s failure to register a strong protest on diluting Punjab’s stakes in BBMB during meeting with PM)
(SAD delegation to meet President to demand a roll back of all anti-Punjab decisions. Says it will not sit idle if Punjab’s rights are snatched from it)
Chandigarh, March 28 2022
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today requested chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann to call an all party meeting with the objective of unitedly approaching the central government to stop its efforts to make Chandigarh a permanent union territory in violation of the Punjab Reorganization Act.
READ MORE :-Central Government should refrain from continuously imposing dictatorial anti-Punjab decisions: Harpal Singh Cheema
Reacting strongly to the announcement by union home minister Amit Shah to bring Chandigarh union territory employees under central civil services rules, the SAD said “it is incumbent on the AAP government to make the centre understand that Chandigarh is a union territory as per an ad-hoc arrangement only. We have nothing against the employees of Chandigarh whose interests can be protected by the Punjab government also. But we strongly protest against this latest move to pitch the employees against civil society and use them to snatch Punjab’s rights over Chandigarh”.
The senior leaders including Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Charanjit Singh Atwal, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema and Hira Singh Gabria called upon the chief minister to fulfill his responsibility towards the State. They noted that the chief minister did not take up the issue of dilution of Punjab’s stakes in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) during his recent meeting with the Prime Minister. They said had the chief minister registered a strong protest on this issue, the centre would have desisted from going ahead with the move to extend central rules on Chandigarh employees. The leaders said it was even more galling that even as Mr Bhagwant Mann did not take up this issue with the Prime Minister fearing a reprimand from AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, the Haryana chief minister had already demanded release of Punjab river waters to Haryana. “The chief minister has even chosen to remain silent on Mr Manohar Lal Khattar’s statement”, he said adding all these issues should be taken up at an all party meeting.
Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra said the recent decision on extending central civil service rules to Chandigarh employees was not only a violation of the Punjab Reorganization Act but also that of the Rajiv Gandhi- Sant Harchand Singh Longowal accord and several subsequent Commissions, all of whom had held that Punjab had a majority share in Chandigarh administration and that the status of the union territory was ad-hoc pending transfer to Punjab.
Asserting that the central decisions, including creating separate cadres for union territory employees by going against the 60:40 ratio vis a vis Punjab and Haryana as laid out in the Reorganization Act, had been done without consulting Punjab, Prof Chandumajra said all such decisions should be reviewed immediately. He also announced that a SAD delegation would meet the President shortly to apprise him of the development and demand its roll back. “We will not sit idle and will decide on our next course of action in case the decisions are not reviewed”, he added.
Prof Chandumajra also requested the centre not to interfere in State affairs to this extent and urged it to respect the principle of federalism as enshrined in the constitution. He also made it clear that the SAD was a votary of federalism and would safeguard the rights of the State at all costs.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema highlighted how extending central rules over Chandigarh employees would marginalize Punjabi language even further. He said the issue was one of sentiment also, with Punjab having an inextricable bond with Chandigarh which should not be severed.
In reply to a query, the SAD leaders also demanded that the Punjab government should lower VAT on petroleum products immediately to give much needed relief to the common man. The leaders said the recent hikes in petrol and diesel prices had put a huge burden on the common man with VAT also increasing proportionately. They said AAP had been propagating reduction in VAT in similar circumstances when in the opposition and should not shy away from giving this relief to Punjabis now.