Punjab CM slams Shah's announcement on applying central service rules to Chandigarh UT staff
"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
CHANDIGARH: A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the central service rules will apply to the employees of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday slammed the Centre's decision, claiming that it went against the Punjab Reorganisation Act.
Shah's announcement has evoked sharp reactions from AAP, Congress and SAD leaders, with many of them 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.
The Aam Aadmi Party-led government in Punjab said that the party will oppose the Centre's decision and fight the issue from "streets to Parliament".
Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Monday 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.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal urged the chief minister 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 Reorganisation Act".
"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 SAD said in a statement on Monday.
State finance minister 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 government and "has intensified its attacks on the rights of Punjab".
Cheema also alleged that previous governments of Punjab didn't protect the rights and share of the state.
The finance minister said that the Centre now 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 roll it back," he said.
With this decision, the Chandigarh administration's employees are not going to benefit, he further said, and claimed, "Rather, there will be a cut in their salaries."
The Union Territory employees are currently working under the Punjab service rules.
According to Shah, the move will benefit them in a "big way", as 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.
Meanwhile, SAD 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 leaders, including Prem Singh Chandumajra, noted that the chief minister "did not take up the issue of dilution of Punjab's stakes in the Bhakra Beas Management Board during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
"The Centre's decision on extending central civil service rules to Chandigarh employees was not only a violation of the Punjab Reorganisation Act but also that of the Rajiv Gandhi-Sant Harcharan Singh Longowal accord and several subsequent commissions, all of which have held that Punjab has a majority share in Chandigarh administration and that the status of the Union territory was ad-hoc pending transfer to Punjab," Chandumajra said.
He also said that a party delegation would meet the President soon to apprise him of the development and demand the rollback of the Centre's decision.
Congress leaders, including Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, too condemned the decision.
Denying the AAP government's allegations, senior BJP leader and former Chandigarh MP Satya Pal Jain claimed that the Punjab government is not able to accept the recommendations of various pay commissions for its employees, whereas the central government in one go has accepted the long-pending demand of the UT employees.
Jain said that thousands of UT employees will benefit from the Centre's decision and most of them come from Punjab.
"Those who are opposing this decision are, in fact, hampering the interests of these employees from Punjab."
Earlier, the change in rules to appointment of top officers to the BBMB had raked up a storm with many political parties in Punjab and Haryana criticising the Centre.