Friday, September 29, 2023

Mann acted like a coward : Badal on panchayats’ dissolution issue

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday said Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann acted like a “coward” by making IAS officers “scapegoats” for his government’s decision to dissolve all gram panchayats in the state.

He said the process for dissolution of panchayats was initiated by Mann through Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Laljit Singh Bhullar and hence, the chief minister should resign. On August 31, the Punjab government told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it was withdrawing an August 10 notification dissolving all gram panchayats in the state.

Hours later, the government suspended two IAS officers — Rural Development and Panchayats Principal Secretary Dhirendra Kumar Tiwari and Rural Development and Panchayats Director Gurpreet Singh Khaira — with immediate effect for taking a “technically flawed” decision on the dissolution of panchayats. Slamming the Punjab government over the issue, Badal said Mann was “acting like a coward and trying to hide by making the IAS officers scapegoats in the matter”. “The fact is that the entire process of dissolution of panchayats, (which was) to be followed by election, was initiated, piloted and signed by Bhagwant Mann through the concerned minister Laljit Singh Bhullar.

“The IAS officers had merely presented the concerned file for perusal and necessary orders by the chief minister. The officers had specifically noted on the file itself that it was being sent as desired by the chief minister,” the Akali Dal leader claimed. Badal also demanded Bhullar’s dismissal.

“The minister deserves dismissal as he was responsible for steering the decision to dissolve the panchayats from the beginning to end,” he said. The chief minister owes an apology to the people and should resign on moral grounds as this entire exercise was carried out with his complete knowledge and assent, the SAD chief added.
Putting the blame on the IAS officers is proof of Mann’s “sheer political and moral cowardice”, he said.

The Punjab government, through its August 10 notification, had dissolved all gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads. According to the notification, the elections of the members of panchayat samitis and zila parishads were to be held by November 25 and those of gram panchayats by December 31.
SAD leader Gurjeet Singh Talwandi had challenged the government notification in the high court.



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