CHANDIGARH: With Punjab witnessing unscheduled and long power cuts because of coal shortage and the AAP government trying to work out how to deliver 300 units of free power, now a new political storm has erupted in the state as the Opposition Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alleged that Delhi Chief Minister and National Convenor of AAP Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting with officials of the Punjab government over the power issue, asking in what capacity he did so.
They alleged that Kejriwal held the meeting with Punjab government officials on Monday in the absence of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann. Mann on Tuesday reportedly met Kejriwal to discuss the modalities of giving 300 units of free power to people.
The Shiromani Akali Dal has reacted strongly to the alleged meeting of Punjab power officials with Kejriwal. The party asked Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann to safeguard the interests of Punjab and ensure the state is not subject to remote control rule by the AAP government in Delhi or taken over by the Centre. Senior SAD leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said instead of tackling the real issues of Punjab, the AAP government was trying to obfuscate by diverting the attention of the people.
Cheema said Punjabis were shocked that Kejriwal was holding meetings with the Punjab chief secretary and PSPCL Chairman. "The apprehension in the minds of people that the Punjab government would be run by remote from Delhi under AAP rule is proving to be true," he said. Asking Bhagwant Mann to clarify the situation immediately, Cheema said the manner in which the Delhi Chief Minister was riding roughshod over constitutional norms had made Punjabis insecure. "Punjabis rightfully fear that the officers of Punjab could be browbeaten to sign away the rights of the state on important issues like river waters. Mann should understand that he has been elected to office in Punjab and he alone should hold the required meetings and not give this right to the Delhi Chief Minister."
Punjab Congress President Amrinder Singh Raja Warring in a series of tweets hit out at the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and AAP supremo Arvind Kejiriwal. He tweeted, "Will Punjab be puppeteered by Delhi people, in what capacity and on which issue was this meeting held..CM Sahib make it public."
"CS Anirudh Tewari, Secy Power Dalip Kumar, Delhi CM @ArvindKejriwal ,MP @raghav_chadha Delhi Minister Satyender Jain, Chairman PSPCL Baldev singh Saran hv held official meeting in the absence of CM BHAGWANT MANN @BhagwantMann and Power Minister Harbhjan Singh," he wrote in another tweet.
He also questioned whether senior officials of Punjab have to mark their attendance in the 'Darbar' of Kejriwal and if the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is only CM of Punjab in name.
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited is already under financial strain and the state government will have to work out ways not to overstrain the state power utility. It is learnt that free power is to be given to 73.39 lakh consumers and the cost of giving free power to all is estimated at around Rs 1,300 crore per month. As already the state government gives free power to agriculture consumers, and some units of free power to socially and economically disadvantaged sections besides industry also gets subsidy, the total power subsidy came to Rs 12,000 crore for this fiscal.
Meanwhile, the power situation remains grim in the state as four thermal units remained shut, causing a loss of 1,410 MW. As two units of GVK thermal plant are shut because of coal shortage, one unit of Talwandi Sabo Power Limited at Mansa is shut because of a technical snag and another unit of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant at Ropar is shut for annual maintenance. But officers in the PSPCL maintain that there is no shortage, in spite of a huge surge in demand.
In a tweet, Navjot Sidhu said, "Punjab's IAS officers summoned by Arvind Kejriwal in CM Bhagwant Mann’s absence. This exposes the Defacto CM & Delhi remote control. Clear breach of federalism, insult to Punjabi pride. Both must clarify."