Amit Shah’s announcement on land for Haryana for new Assembly building in Chandigarh sparks row

"Chandigarh is an inalienable part of Punjab. Haryana is most welcome to build a new Vidhan Sabha outside of UT limits," said senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa, leader of Opposition in Punjab

Amit Shah’s announcement on land for Haryana for new Assembly building in Chandigarh sparks row
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Bipin Bhardwaj

Following an announcement made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding land allotment to Haryana in Chandigarh for the construction of a separate Vidhan Sabha building, Punjab and Haryana have once again locked horns over their claims on Chandigarh, currently the joint capital of both the states.

All political parties of Punjab, except the BJP, have entered into a war of words over the issue, accusing each other of diluting Punjab’s claim on Chandigarh.

On June 9, Shah, while chairing the Northern Zone Council meeting of states at Jaipur, had announced that Haryana would be given land in Chandigarh for the construction of an additional Vidhan Sabha building.

Shah made the announcement on the request of Harana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.

“There is not enough space available in the existing building of state Vidhan Sabha to even accommodate 90 MLAs. Not only this, but it is also not possible to carry out the expansion, because it is a heritage building. Therefore, sufficient space is needed in Chandigarh for the construction of a new additional building for the Vidhan Sabha,” Khattar has said on record.

Khattar revealed the development on social media, prompting Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to take to Twitter appealing to the Union government to allot land to Punjab as well in Chandigarh to build its own Vidhan Sabha.

Mann also said that there has been a long-standing demand that Punjab and Haryana should have separate High Courts. He urged the Centre to provide land for the same in Chandigarh.

Opposing the Union government’s move to provide land in Chandigarh to Haryana for the construction of a new Vidhan Sabha building, senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa, leader of the Opposition, said, "Chandigarh is an inalienable part of Punjab. Haryana is most welcome to build a new Vidhan Sabha outside of UT limits."

Bajwa criticized Mann for demanding land for a separate Vidhan Sabha and High Court.

"Bhagwant Mann ji should stop weakening the right of Punjab over Chandigarh by calling for a new Vidhan Sabha and High Court to be built when the current UNESCO world heritage buildings built by Le Corbusier belong to Punjab!" Bajwa posted on Twitter.

"By surrendering our rights to these heritage buildings, the CM is ensuring the permanent loss of Chandigarh. It seems the CM has outsourced his Twitter account to Delhi, as those drafting his tweets seem to be alien to understanding the position of Punjab wrt Chandigarh. If the CM is not careful, this kind of callous statements made by AAP Punjab will backfire and weaken the interests in Punjab," he added.

Another senior Punjab Congress leader, Sukhpal Singh Khaira urged CM Mann to immediately convene an all party meeting to oppose tooth and nail the ‘illegal allocation’ of land to Haryana for a new Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh.

“Haryana should build their complex in their own state and not in Chandigarh,” he tweeted.

Attacking CM Mann for his statement seeking land for a High Court building, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed that Mann had surrendered Punjab's right over Chandigarh by making such a demand.

Badal said that SAD will not allow the Centre to allot land to Haryana for setting up an additional building of Haryana Assembly in Chandigarh.

Badal said he initially thought that Mann had commented inadvertently. “But it seems that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal got Mann to make this statement under a ‘conspiracy’,” said Badal, calling Mann a “rubber stamp”. He also asked Mann to withdraw his statement.

On Monday, while reacting to Badal’s statement, Mann slammed the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership for “diluting the claim of Punjab on Chandigarh”.

“Everyone knows who shifted the state government offices from Chandigarh to Mohali and formed New Chandigarh,” he said.

Mann alleged that SAD chief patron and former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal had connived with the government at the Center to dilute the claims of Punjab over Chandigarh.

He categorically asked Sukhbir Badal to explain why they were tight-lipped about Chandigarh when they were partners in successive governments at the Centre.

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