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Punjab signs knowledge-sharing agreement with Delhi, opposition says Kejriwal now de facto CM

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said Mann had sold off the interests of Punjab to Delhi in the garb of a Knowledge Sharing Agreement and now Arvind Kejriwal had become the de facto CM

Published: 26th April 2022 05:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2022 07:03 PM   |  A+A-

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government on Tuesday signed a knowledge-sharing agreement with the Delhi government, wherein the two states will cooperate for framing and implementing public welfare programmes in various fields on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit. Reacting to it, the opposition SAD, Congress and BJP slammed the Punjab government for signing the agreement terming it as direct interference by Arvind Kejriwal.

After having inked the agreement, both Chief Ministers Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal described it as a historic initiative for the well being and prosperity of people of both the states.

The agreement signed between the Punjab and Delhi government envisages that the government of Delhi and the government of Punjab enter into a knowledge-sharing agreement (KSA) to enable them to cooperate for public welfare. This enables the two governments to share knowledge, experience and skills for the mutual welfare of the people of their respective territories. The KSA enables the two governments to send and receive officials, ministers and other personnel to learn and share their knowledge, experience and skills for public welfare, said Mann.

Announcing that the Delhi model would be replicated in the state, Mann revealed that 117 government schools and equal number of Mohalla Clinics will be set up with one each in every assembly segment across the state to impart quality education to the students and the state-of-the-art healthcare facilities to the people. He said that he was elated as the state has inked an agreement with the Delhi government, which has already evolved a world class health and education model adding that it will help the residents of Punjab to avail these top class facilities. Divulging the rationale behind this agreement, he said, "Every individual should learn like a student throughout his life and should never hesitate to adopt the good in life from wherever he gets."

Mann said that he will certainly visit other states and even some countries across the globe for the holistic development of the state whenever and wherever it is required. Brushing aside the criticism by the opposition, he categorically said that this is not a one-sided agreement but both the states would mutually benefit from it. Mann claimed the opposition was unnecessarily making a hue and cry just for the sake of hollow criticism.

The Chief Minister said that just as Punjab would eventually benefit from the health and education model of Delhi, the people of the National Capital Territory would also benefit from Punjab’s vast experience and expertise in the field of agriculture. He said that the Delhi government had sent their teachers to Finland, Cambridge and other places to brush up their teaching skills for the benefit of students.

He said that in Delhi 25 per cent of its budget was spend on education whereas in Punjab it was merely two percent. Mann said that 19,000 schools of the state where 25 lakh students are attaining education need ultra modern facilities and modern infrastructure which will be now provided by the Punjab government based on the Delhi model.

Mann rued that in the health sector the state has expert medical and para medical staff but they lack ultra modern infrastructural facilities to treat people.

However, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal said Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had sold off the interests of Punjab to Delhi in the garb of a knowledge-sharing agreement and now AAP Convener Arvind Kejriwal had become the de facto Chief Minister of Punjab. Terming the development as a black day in the history of Punjab, Badal said never before in the history of the state had outsiders been given control of the state and its future generations in this manner. “A municipality president has been given charge of chief ministership of Punjab. Punjab has become subservient to Delhi which is not even a state”.

Asking the Punjab Chief Minister to explain why he had betrayed Punjab and its people by surrendering its autonomy to Delhi, Badal said Mann had hurt the pride of Punjabis. "The agreement makes it clear that all ministers and officers of Punjab will now report to Kejriwal and that the latter will have access to all Punjab government files. This is also a case of violation of the official secrecy act even as clause 3 of the agreement binds future governments to decisions taken under it. We will approach the Punjab Governor and urge him to direct the chief minister to withdraw his assent to the anti-Punjab agreement. The party will also plan its next course of action in an emergency meeting of its core committee," he said.

Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa said that this agreement is akin to the Lahore Durbar inviting the British in March 1846 to safeguard the safety of the Maharajah.

By signing this agreement, the Punjab government has abrogated its responsibility to implement and manage welfare schemes in Punjab. Article VIII of the MoU allows for the creation of a “Delhi-Punjab Joint Working Group on Public Welfare Cooperation,” that would be empowered to coordinate and implement this agreement. The MoU has no clear appointment process or rules and regulations for the functioning of such a group. In effect, it would allow this unelected “working group” to manage the affairs of the state, outside of the purview of the Chief Minister. This Memorandum of Understanding potentially legalizes the
Punjab Government being remote controlled from Delhi. This memorandum has sold off the rights of Punjab to Delhi into perpetuity, said Bajwa.

BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said that there had been scores of examples where leaders from one state have been picking up lessons from other states but signing of MOUs is a new and a weird tradition that AAP is going to set. "By signing MOU in two states where AAP has been in power, Kejriwal and Mann are only making a political statement in a crude manner to tell the country that wherever AAP would form the government there would be a political liaison between the states," he said.



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