Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday rejected a proposal of affiliation of Haryana colleges with Panjab University, saying the Chandigarh-based university belongs to Punjab and will remain so. He also strongly objected to Haryana’s offer of funds for restoration of the state’s share in the Panjab University (PU), and asked his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar to set up a varsity in any part of his state.
Mann was speaking after holding a meeting with Khattar over the matter. The meeting was also attended by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and PU Vice Chancellor Renu Vig. “Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh has always been connected with Punjab’s legacy, heritage, emotions, culture and literature,” Mann said while addressing media after the meeting.
He also accused the neighbouring state of trying to gain “indirect” entry into the varsity.“They want indirect entry into the university which is connected with Punjab’s emotions, literature and culture. We told them today that there is a clear no from our side. We cannot give affiliation to any Haryana college,” he said. “PU belongs to Punjab and will remain so,” he added.
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The first meeting on the issue of affiliation of Haryana colleges was held on June 1 in which Punjab Governor Purohit had flagged the possibility of colleges in neighbouring Haryana to be affiliated with the Chandigarh-based university, triggering a strong reaction from Mann. The chief minister recalled that the PU was shifted from Lahore, the then capital of Punjab, to Hoshiarpur after partition and later to Chandigarh, the common capital of Punjab and Haryana. He said at present, 175 colleges of Punjab and 30 colleges of Union Territory Chandigarh are affiliated with the PU.
He said earlier, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh had also 20 per cent each share in the PU.
But the then Haryana chief minister Bansi Lal on his own decided to withdraw the state’s share from the PU and got Kurukshetra University in the state.
Himachal Pradesh also withdrew their share from the PU, he said.
At present, Punjab’s share is 40 per cent while UT Chandigarh has 60 per cent share in PU. Mann also slammed the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for writing to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh in August 2008 for giving no objection certificate for granting central status to PU.
He also showed a communique in this regard to media while taking a dig at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which asked Mann not to attend a meeting with Khattar.
Mann said his government had written two letters to Union ministers Amit Shah and Dharmendra Pradhan for retaining the PU’s status as “inter-state corporate” body as envisaged in the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966.
He said the Punjab Assembly had also passed a resolution in June last year to not alter the status of the PU.
Mann also stated that a Haryana Congress MLA in August 2022 had brought a resolution for affiliating Haryana colleges with the PU. During Monday’s meeting, Mann said the Kurukshetra University (KU) was a good university and asked whether there was any shortage of staff or the teaching was not good at the university.
On Haryana’s offer of money for restoration of share, Mann said, “I told them– tomorrow you will say what is the rate of Punjab. I wonder if it is constitutional to say that one can restore the share with money.” Mann also showed Haryana government’s letter dated May 28 to vice chancellors of all universities, asking them to raise their own funds. On one hand, they say they do not have funds for its universities and on the other hand, they offer money for restoration of share (in PU), he said. Mann also said that he was told that the then Haryana CM Bansi Lal had decided to withdraw the state’s share from PU after he felt ”insulted” as no chair was kept for him to sit at an event in which the Punjab chief minister was also present. “We do not stop students from studying here. Students come here from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and other places,” he said.
Mann said the next meeting on this issue has been called on July 3, but his stand will remain the same.
He said his government has released Rs 49 crore for a hostel in PU.
He also took a dig at the Punjab governor’s ”keen interest” on the matter. He said he has often mentioned how ”main office, BJP” should be written outside the governor’s house. Governor Purohit, who is also the administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, had earlier said the affiliation was possible with mutual consent of chief ministers of both the states.