The Punjab Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution by vote against the Center’s alleged move to change the “status” of Panjab University, saying any decision to change the “character” of the varsity will not be acceptable to the people of the state. However, the BJP, with its two MLAs, Ashwani Sharma and Jangi Lal Mahajan in the 117-member state assembly, opposed it, asking whether there was actually a proposal to change the institution’s status into a central university.
The resolution was tabled by the Punjab Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer who said that Punjab was entitled to Panjab University and that the state government would not allow the center to change its nature and character. “Panjab University is our heritage, and it is a matter of identity for us,” said the minister. “This House is concerned about the efforts of some vested interests to change the status of Panjab University into a Central University under one pretext or another,” the resolution said.
The House recognizes and acknowledges that the Panjab University re-started with an Act of the State of Punjab namely, the Panjab University Act 1947 after independence, and then with the reorganization of the State of Punjab in 1966, was proclaimed as an Interstate Corporate Corporate on under Section 72(1) of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966 enacted by Parliament. Since its inception, Panjab University has functioned continuously and uninterrupted in the state of Punjab, the resolution said.
Despite the fact that the states of Haryana and Himachal stopped paying their share of grants for the university’s maintenance deficit, Punjab has increased its share from 20 percent to 40 percent and has been paying it continuously since 1976, Hayer said.
“This House has established that the university manages and conducts its financial affairs unilaterally. However, the state of Punjab has increased the Grant-in-Aid from Rs 20 crore to Rs 45.30 crore during the 2020-21 fiscal year, representing an increase of more than 75 percent. Besides, nearly Rs 100 crore is collected annually by the university from its affiliated colleges in Punjab, Hayer said. “This House strongly and unanimously believes that any decision to change the character of Panjab University will not be acceptable to the people of Punjab and therefore strongly recommends that no change in the nature and character of this university be considered by the Government of India,” he said while reading the resolution.
The resolution states that any proposal to that effect, if considered, must be withdrawn with immediate effect. “This House strongly recommends that the state government address the matter with the central government so as not to alter the nature and character of Panjab University,” it added.
BJP MLA Jangi Lal Mahajan, who took part in the discussion, said: I am astonished that a resolution has been tabled on an issue that does not exist.” He asked whether the Center sent a proposal to transform PU into a central university or a letter received by the state government or is there a statement from the representative of the central government. “If there is no such thing, why is PU being considered a central university?” he asked.
Mahajan said: I want to make it clear that the Center has no such proposal or intention. BJP MLA Ashwani Sharma also said there was no need for such a resolution if there is no movement to turn PU into a central university.
However, Congress MLA Pargat Singh backed the resolution and stated that the emotions of the people of Punjab were related to PU. Congress legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira accused the Center of trying to take over PU from Punjab.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali also supported the resolution. More than a week ago, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had requested the intervention of Union Ministers Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan to prevent “any change in the nature and character of the Panjab University” here.
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