Unable to get the governor’s nod to its highly controversial ordinance to regularise 30,000 employees hired via back door, the Punjab government on Friday decided to hold a special Vidhan Sabha session on December 19 to push the legislation.
In a dramatic and extraordinary move, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s council of ministers went into a huddle at 4 pm after parleys between governor VP Singh Badnore and the government failed to break the logjam.
“The Punjab cabinet has convened a one-day session of state assembly on December 19 at 2pm to transact important legislative business,” a government spokesperson said.
The government had fielded senior BJP minister Madan Mohan Mittal to resolve the deadlock. However, the parleys between the government and the governor did not succeed.
Now, the ordinance will be converted into a money bill as it has financial implications.
The contentious clause of the ordinance keeps the regularisation of these employees out of the ambit of judicial scrutiny. These employees were hired on contract, ad-hoc, daily-wages, temporary or work-charge basis by the education, health, medical education and local government departments.
This pre-poll bonanza will benefit employees of education (11,000), health (7,000), local government (4,000) and medical education (700) departments, besides several others of various boards, corporations and societies in the state.
LAST-DITCH BID FAILS
In a last-ditch bid to convince the governor, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, accompanied by Mittal, chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, advocate general Ashok Aggarwal and principal secretary to CM SK Sandhu, met Badnore at Punjab Raj Bhawan on Friday morning.
Sources said the government was left with no other option except summoning the assembly session to give legislative backing to its decision after the governor conveyed that he would be more comfortable in giving assent to the legislation if the Vidhan Sabha passed it in the form of a Bill.
The governor, they said, found the legality of the ordinance questionable as it concealed more than what it revealed about its financial implications.
Now, all existing ordinances which are in force will also be converted into Bills for introduction and passage in the one-day Vidhan Sabha session. There are about 14 ordinances currently in force. In case the government fails to convert them into Bills and get them passed in the House, these will automatically lapse.
The government has implemented a slew of poll-centric sops through these ordinances.
Notably, the government will hold the one-day assembly session in the absence of 43 Congress MLAs who have quit in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling ordering status quo on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. Also, six SAD-BJP legislators who have either switched over to the Congress or resigned from the assembly after denial of ticket will not attend the proceedings. Independent MLAs Bains brothers had also resigned last month.
The decision to call a special session has been taken exactly a month after the government held a day-long emergency session of the Vidhan Sabha on November 16 to legally and politically counter the Supreme Court verdict’s fallout on the inter-state water dispute.
Sources said the government reacted very quickly after learning that the governor was about to leave for Rajasthan. It was soon after Sukhbir Badal met the governor that the decision to hold a cabinet meeting was taken.
Also, the governor had to cancel his Rajasthan visit as the government wanted to hold on Friday evening the swearing-in ceremony of the three Shiromani Akali Dal activists who have been rehabilitated as members of the Punjab Public Service Commission and the Right to Service Commission to control political damage after denying them the tickets for assembly polls.