After Punjab staking claim over Chandigarh, Haryana convenes assembly session

Chandigarh: Amid the adoption of an unanimous resolution by the Punjab assembly to stake claim over Chandigarh, a longstanding dispute, Haryana on Sunday also announced to convene a day-long special session of the Vidhan Sabha on April 5.

Though the reason for calling the session has not been officially announced, officials admit it is to stake claim for Chandigarh, the joint capital of both states.

A cabinet meeting was held on Sunday under the Chairmanship of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. It was decided in the meeting that a special session of Haryana Vidhan Sabha will be called on April 5 at 11 a.m., an official statement said.

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A letter in this regard will be sent to the Governor and the Speaker, it added.

Khattar has already condemned the Punjab assembly’s resolution to transfer Chandigarh to the state.

“Condemnable. They (Punjab) should not have done this,” Khattar told the media.

“If they want to do something like this, they should first go to Supreme Court over resolving Satluj Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) issue. The Hindi-speaking areas were not given to Haryana, which delayed the rest of the issues. They should say that they are ready to give Hindi-speaking areas to Haryana,” said Khattar, adding Chandigarh is and will remain the capital of both states.

Justifying further, he said Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh came into existence through the Punjab Reorganization Act passed in 1966.

“There is a provision in this Act that 60 per cent of employees of Chandigarh will be from Punjab and 40 per cent of employees will be from Haryana. Since that time, Chandigarh is the capital of Haryana and Punjab,” he said.

The Chief Minister said not only Punjab and Haryana, but the people of Himachal Pradesh should also ask for their shares in Chandigarh.

“In one case, the Supreme Court had also given Himachal Pradesh the right to over 7.19 per cent of Chandigarh’s land under the Punjab Reorganization Act. It is a different matter that Himachal Pradesh has made its capital in Shimla,” Khattar said.

The Punjab Assembly on April 1 unanimously adopted the resolution, moved by the leader of House and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, urging the Centre to transfer Chandigarh to Punjab.

The House also implored the Central government to honour the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution and not to take any steps which may disturb the balance in the administration of Chandigarh and that of other common assets like the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

Winding up the discussions after taking into consideration the points raised by various members of treasury and opposition benches during the one-day special sitting of first session of 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mann said his government would exploit all channels by seeking prior appointment from the Centre to call on the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to mount pressure on the Union government in order to take their fight for legitimate rights of Punjab to its logical end.

Giving a clarion call to all members of opposition, Mann solicited wholehearted support and cooperation from all the parties, thus cutting across political affiliations as this issue was quite sensitive and of immense emotional and social significance.

“Therefore, in the larger public interest all of us should unite on a common platform to get the justifiable demands of state implemented from the Centre in the letter and spirit,” he said.

Lambasting the BJP-led Central government, Mann said its leadership was bent upon to indulge in vendetta politics in general and especially in states like Punjab, Delhi and West Bengal where its leadership has failed to get people’s mandate for formation of its government.

He also assailed the Centre for usurping the powers vested in the states, thus tinkering with the federal structure to pursue their political interests.

Interestingly, the passing of a resolution in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha is not the first such resolution.

Earlier, six resolutions were passed in the legislative assembly.

The first one dating back to May 18, 1967, and that was non-official resolution moved by Acharya Prithvi Singh Azad, who sought inclusion of Chandigarh in Punjab. The resolution was carried.

The previous one before the latest was of December 23, 2014. It was also a non-official resolution for transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab. The resolution was agreed by everyone.

But the question is: Why has Punjab staked claim on Chandigarh?

On March 27, Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his day-long visit to Chandigarh this week announced that the Centre would notify Central Service Rules for employees in the Union Territory instead of the Punjab Service Rules. A day later the rules were notified.

The Centre had earlier changed rules for appointments to the BBMB by enabling that the recruitments can be done from anywhere in India, instead of Punjab and Haryana.

On Friday, the Punjab Assembly in a special session passed a unanimous resolution reiterating the state’s claim on Chandigarh.

Defending the BJP government in Centre, Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma termed the resolution passed by the state government a “political stunt and a bid to divert the attention of the people from real issues”.

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