CHANDIGARH, March 28 (PTI): Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Monday slammed Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement to apply the central service rules to the employees of the union territory of Chandigarh, claiming that it went against the Punjab Reorganisation Act.
Shah’s announcement has evoked a sharp reaction from some rivals of the BJP, with many leaders saying this was “another big blow to the rights of Punjab” after changes in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) rules.
“Central Govt has been stepwise imposing officers and personnel from other states and services in the Chandigarh administration. This goes against the letter and spirit of Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966. Punjab will fight strongly for its rightful claim over Chandigarh,” Mann said in a tweet.
Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Cheema on Monday said that the AAP will oppose the Centre’s decision and fight the issue from “streets to Parliament”.
He alleged that the BJP-led Centre has been taking “anti-Punjab decisions”, as he also referred to the BBMB issue, and said it was now trying to usurp Punjab’s rights over Chandigarh.
“The central government is deliberately taking steps to take away Punjab’s claims over Chandigarh,” he told reporters here.
Cheema said ever since the AAP formed the government in Punjab, the BJP-led government at the Centre is feeling scared due to several “pro-people” decisions being taken by the Mann-led government.
The finance minister said that the Centre took a unilateral decision regarding the union territory employees and “did not consult the stakeholder Punjab….This goes against the letter and spirit of Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966.”
“We oppose this decision, we will protect Punjab’s interests and we will force Centre to rollback it back,” he said.
With this decision, Chandigarh union territory employees are not going to benefit, he further claimed, and claimed, “Rather, there will be a cut in their salaries.”
After Shah’s announcement here on Sunday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had taken a dig at the BJP, saying it is scared of the AAP’s “rising footprint”.
Taking to Twitter soon after the home minister’s statement, Sisodia said Shah did not take away Chandigarh’s powers when the Congress was ruling Punjab, but he did so soon after the AAP formed its government.
The union territory employees are currently working under the Punjab service rules. According to Shah, the move will benefit them in a “big way”, their retirement age will increase from 58 to 60 years, and women employees will get childcare leave of two years instead of the current one year.
Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal also opposed the Centre’s announcement.
“The Centre wants to usurp the rights of Punjab over Chandigarh,” Badal said.
Senior SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema had on Saturday tweeted, “MOH’s (Ministry of Home Affairs) decision to impose central government rules on employees of Chandigarh is in violation of the spirit of the Punjab Reorg (Reorganisation) Act and must be reconsidered.”
Congress leaders, including Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, too condemned the decision.
Earlier, the change in rules to appointment top officers to the BBMB had raked up a storm with many political parties in Punjab and Haryana criticising the Centre.
The BBMB, which is a statutory body under the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, and manages the water resources of Sutlej and Beas, has a whole-time chairman and two members for irrigation and power.
Political leaders have claimed that according to the BBMB Rules, 1974, the member (power) in BBMB must be from Punjab and the member (irrigation) from Haryana, but the requirement has been removed in the amended rules.