Controversy Erupts Over Tewaris state-like powers to Chandigarh

  • | Tuesday | 21st May, 2024

A major controversy erupted in Punjab following senior Congress leader and INDIA bloc candidate from Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat Manish Tewari, promising state-like powers to Chandigarh. On Monday, rivals of the Congress party in Punjab targeted the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress — both part of pan-India opposition bloc INDIA — for allegedly compromising the states rights over Chandigarh, accusing them of betrayal.   Stressing that the promise unmasked the anti-Punjab face of both AAP and the Congress, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday said that both these parties have diluted Punjabs rights over Chandigarh. Punjab BJP president Sunil Jakhar also made an emphatic declaration that Chandigarh belongs to Punjab and that the states claim on the city is non-negotiable and indisputable.   Tewari released a 10-point Congress Vision Document for Chandigarh on Sunday, which proposed making Chandigarh a city-state, a move interpreted as pushing for statehood for the city. It is time for Chandigarh to become a city-state. The three existing, antiquated models of governance of the city, which are plagued by the multiplicity of authority and complicated web of laws, will be consolidated into simplified and people-friendly laws supported by the legal architecture in order to address the whole range of issues concerning the city, Tewari stated.   In addition to proposing statehood, Tewari also promised several populist measures, including 300 units of free electricity to families with monthly incomes up to Rs 20,000, 20,000 liters of free water every month, prioritizing the establishment of a metro system, direct international flights to the USA, Canada, and the UK, share-wise transfer of properties, and regularizing construction outside the Lal Dora areas.   Accusing the Congress-AAP alliance of betraying Punjab by proposing state-like powers for Chandigarh in their joint manifesto, Sukhbir termed the move as the greatest recorded betrayal.   The Nyay Patra released by Congress-AAP candidate Manish Tewari reveals the INDIA alliances agenda to make Chandigarh a separate state like Delhi, said Sukhbir, criticizing the national parties for failing to protect Punjabs interests, asserting that both the Congress and AAP had diluted Punjabs rights over Chandigarh.   He pointed out that the Nehru-Gandhi family and AAP leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, have historically undermined Punjabs claim to Chandigarh. He cited how Indira Gandhi postponed the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and how Rajiv Gandhi reneged on the Rajiv-Longowal accords promise.   Sukhbir also accused Mann of weakening Punjabs claim over Chandigarh by not protesting against a separate Vidhan Sabha for Haryana in the UT and failing to defend Punjabs quota in government jobs and Punjabi as the official language.   Urging Punjabis to reject both Congress and AAP, Sukhbir emphasized that only a regional party like SAD could safeguard Punjabs rights. He pledged that SAD would launch a struggle if necessary to ensure Chandigarhs transfer to Punjab. Punjabs rights can only be safe in the hands of a regional party, he asserted, reaffirming SADs commitment to the cause.   Also taking to the social media to express his outrage, Majithia accused the Congress of betraying Punjab once again. In a post on X, Majithia wrote in Punjabi: The Congress party has once again stabbed Punjab in the back. Manish Tewari, the Congress candidate from Chandigarh, has announced granting city-state status to Punjabs capital. Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Opposition Leader Pratap Bajwa, and the entire leadership must answer to the Punjabis. Why has Punjab been deceived once again? Punjab will reclaim its capital at any cost, even if it requires sacrifices. The Akali Dal remains committed to reclaiming Chandigarh.   Punjab BJP chief Jakhar, vehemently opposing Tewaris proposal, reiterated that Chandigarh is an integral part of Punjab. Jakhar criticized the Congress for allegedly attempting to dilute Punjabs claim over Chandigarh by pushing for its city-state status. He accused the Congress of succumbing to external pressures and lacking coherent policy direction, stating, There is no cohesion in the Congress in policy and decision-making. The Congress has outsourced its policies to people like Ambika Soni, Sam Pitroda, and others who are detached from the ground realities in Punjab.   Jakhar warned that the BJP would resist any attempt by the Congress to alienate Chandigarh from Punjab, and called on the Punjab Congress to clarify its stance on the issue. He also challenged the AAP and Punjab Chief Minister Mann to make their positions clear, accusing them of trying to play both sides. These two parties cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound, Jakhar said, urging the AAP to withdraw its support for Manish Tewari if it truly supported Punjabs claim over Chandigarh.   Jakhar also criticized Mann for allegedly diluting Punjabs claim over Chandigarh by proposing a new separate Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) for Punjab within Chandigarh, despite an existing one. Both the Congress and AAP have varying stances. They are fighting as an alliance in Chandigarh. AAP should forthwith withdraw its support to Manish Tiwari to come clean on the issue, or else it will become amply clear that the AAP wants to forfeit Punjabs claim on Chandigarh, Jakhar asserted.   Expressing his disapproval of the Congresss ideological stance, Jakhar accused the party of attempting to divide Punjab along religious lines. He criticized Congress leaders like Ambika Soni, Charanjit Singh Channi, Warring, and Randhawas for allegedly trying to divide the state on Hindu-Sikh lines, and condemned Sam Pitroda for his divisive remarks about distinguishing Indian communities based on appearances.   Jakhar also rebuked Congress leader Sukhpal Khaira for his comments on segregating Punjab by barring non-Punjabis from working or owning property in the state.   The controversy over Chandigarhs status has opened a new front in Punjabs political landscape, with major parties and leaders taking strong positions. The issue underscores the complex and sensitive nature of Chandigarhs governance, a city that has long been a bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana since its inception as a joint capital and the Union Territory in 1966.

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