Chandigarh: Punjab and Haryana are at loggerheads once again, this time over space in the Vidhan Sabha.
The two states share a common building in the iconic Capitol Complex of Chandigarh city, which houses both their assembly halls.
The BJP-ruled Haryana had in December demanded more space but the Congress government in Punjab responded by making it clear that it will not part with “even an inch”.
Haryana has now decided to escalate the matter and complain to the Chandigarh administrator — who is also the Punjab governor and a central government appointee — to resolve the matter.
The demand is the latest flashpoint between the two states that are already locked in an embittered battle over the construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal and the historical issue of both claiming Chandigarh as its capital.
The fresh acrimony came last week when Haryana Speaker Gian Chand Gupta reiterated to his counterpart in Punjab, Rana K.P. Singh, the state’s demand for more space in the Vidhan Sabha to effectively run its offices.
“According to the division of space settled in 1966, when Haryana was created (out of undivided Punjab), some area of the Vidhan Sabha building that should have been a part of Haryana’s share is yet to be given to us,” Haryana Speaker Gupta told ThePrint. “At least 20 rooms in the various wings of the building fall in Haryana’s share but are with Punjab. I went to meet the Punjab Speaker over the issue and followed it up with a written request as well.”
“However, when there was no response from the Punjab Speaker I wrote to him again suggesting that the officers of the Punjab and Haryana Vidhan Sabhas can hold a joint meeting and come up with the mutually acceptable solution. But again, there was no response from Punjab,” added Gupta.
Not an inch more, says Punjab
Punjab Speaker Rana K.P. Singh had, however, responded through the media Friday saying Punjab had not an extra inch to spare in the assembly hall for Haryana.
“The division of area in the assembly hall building for the two states was done way back in 1966 when Haryana was carved out of Punjab and that division stands as it is,” Singh told the media Friday. “The then Haryana Speaker Shanno Devi had agreed to the division. Following a request raised by Haryana, the division was again reiterated and agreed to jointly by the two states in 1968. I don’t understand why this matter is now being reopened by Haryana after 54 years?”
When asked if Haryana had been officially informed about Punjab’s stand on the issue, Singh said that officers of both sides had met and that Punjab officers had made it clear that no review of the 1966 division — which had been settled — will take place.
Gupta however is not impressed with the Punjab Speaker’s response.
“I am surprised at Rana K.P. Singh’s comment to the media. He is lying because no joint meeting of officers has taken place in which the issue was discussed,” he told ThePrint. “In fact, there has been no discussion at all at any level. If Rana K.P. Singh can prove that his officers met my officers and discussed the issue, I will give up the claim altogether.”
Gupta said he would now be writing to the Punjab Governor V.P.S. Badnore, who is also the administrator of Chandigarh to resolve the issue. “The Capitol complex is under the Chandigarh administration and any decision regarding division of space between Punjab and Haryana will have to include the administrator,” Gupta said.
“We are facing an acute shortage of space while Punjab has more rooms than it requires. Many rooms in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha area were filled with clutter and broken furniture until recently. Once we demanded these rooms, Punjab quickly cleaned them up and made one employee sit in each room. This is unacceptable,” Gupta added. “Some months ago, deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala asked for a room in the Vidhan Sabha and we had to give the room set aside for the chief whip of the party. Now the chief whip of the party has no room. Also our employees are crowded together in single rooms.”