Even as the Punjab government has ordered mass transfers of teachers on the recommendations of the Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), Congress legislators have alleged that they were not informed about the process and the entire exercise was only meant to please Akali halqa incharges.
Terming the transfers unconstitutional, the Congress MLAs have also claimed that their views were not even sought.
On June 25, assistant director of Punjab education department issued a circular on the behalf of the education minister to all district education officers (DEOs) asking them to inform respective MLAs of meetings to be held between them and the senior officials of the department.
The meetings were scheduled between June 30 to July 3 comprising representatives of all districts at Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh.
The circular mentioned no agenda and it was only was later learnt that the meetings were held to consider recommendations from MLAs to get teachers of their choice transferred in their respective constituencies, these legislators claim.
However, Punjab education minister Dr Daljit Singh Cheema refuted allegations that Congress legislators were discriminated against and not informed about the schedule of the meetings. “Many teachers were transferred on the recommendation of Congress MLAs,” he said.
The minister added that exercise aimed to ensure that no chaos or confusion was caused during the academic session and the government wanted teachers to perform optimally at a place where their grappling with personal problems was minimised.
“Most transfers pertain to rural areas. We are already through with the exercise within districts and will now move on to inter-district transfers of teachers,” he added.
He said from the next session the Punjab government was also contemplating introducing the Gujarat model, where teachers’ transfers are carried out on the basis of seniority.
The Congress MLAs, however, do not buy the argument.
“We received no circular or information about the transfer exercise to be undertaken by
Ithe Punjab government. They only informed Akali Halqa in charges, which makes the transfers unconstitutional. Akali Halqa in charges want to keep teachers under political control, which could put additional burden on them,” was the refrain of MLAs Tarlochan Singh Soondh, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Navtej Singh Cheema and Bharat Bhushan.
Mohali Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu said that he received a call from the Punjab chief minister’s office, presuming that he was the Akali Halqa in charge.
“However when I told the caller that I am a sitting MLA of the Congress, the call was snapped,” said Sidhu.
Interestingly, the reported clout that Akali Halqa incharges enjoy within the corridors of power in Punjab has not gone unnoticed with the coalition partner in the state government, the BJP.
In his review report of the poor performance of the SAD-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha polls, senior BJP leader Balranji Dass Tandon had blamed the Akali Halqa incharge culture for the anti-government sentiment in the state.