Sticking to their guns on the contentious formation of the Haryana gurdwara panel, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday blamed each other for exploiting the issue for political gains.
In separate interviews to Hindustan Times, both state heads stoutly defended their diametrically opposite stands on the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) that has pitch-forked the Centre into a tense constitutional stand-off with Haryana.
“There is no question of a re-think or backing down (on the HSGMC Act),” Hooda said soon after he signed a file on the constitution of the 41-member ad-hoc HSGMC to manage 38-odd gurdwaras in the state.
Haryana’s latest step – seen as pushing the envelope on the controversial law – came a day after the BJP-led NDA government made it clear that it was well within its power to direct the state to undo the HSGMC Act that has raised the hackles of the BJP’s ally in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal.
Badal, on his part, swore by his resolve to scuttle the HSGMC and hinted that he would step down as chief minister to lead an agitation, the contours of which would be decided at the Panthic congregation in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar on July 27. “It’s a very sensitive matter and the nation must intervene to stop Haryana from carrying through its patently unconstitutional act,” he warned, claiming that “ the Centre is with us on this issue.”
Faced with an intransigent Congress chief minister Hooda, the Centre is hinging its next move on a change of guard at the Haryana Raj Bhawan as the term of incumbent Jagannath Pahadia, who stamped the controversial bill into an act, will end on July 26. The NDA-appointee governor may be amenable to withdrawing the assent.
But, Hooda appears to be unfazed over the Centre’s loaded overtures to make Haryana fall in line. “No matter who is at the Raj Bhawan, the Union government can’t touch the act passed by an elected House representing two-and-a-half crore people of Haryana” he asserted.