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Punjab Assembly passes resolution against Centre's 'bid' to change 'status' of Panjab University

Punjab Assembly passes resolution against Centre’s ‘bid’ to change ‘status’ of Panjab University

July 1, 2022

The Punjab Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution by voice vote against the Centre’s alleged move to alter the “status” of Panjab University, saying that any decision to change the varsity’s “character” won’t 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 status of the institution into a central university.

The resolution was moved by Punjab Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer, who said Punjab had a right over the Panjab University and the state government would not allow the Centre to change its nature and character.

“Panjab University is our heritage, and it is a matter of identity for us,” the minister said.

“This House is concerned about the attempts being made by some vested interests to push the matter for change of status of Panjab University into a Central University on one pretext or another,” the resolution stated.

The House acknowledges and recognizes that the Panjab University was re-commenced with an Act of the Punjab State namely the Panjab University Act 1947 after Independence, and subsequently with the reorganization of the State of Punjab in 1966, it was declared as an Inter-State Body Corporate under Section 72(1) of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966 enacted by the Parliament.

Since its inception, the Panjab University has been continuously and uninterruptedly functioning in the State of Punjab, said the resolution.

Despite the fact that the states of Haryana and Himachal stopped contributing their share of the maintenance deficit grants to the university, Punjab has increased its share from 20 per cent to 40 per cent and has continuously been paying it since 1976, said Hayer.

“This House has observed that the university has been managing and conducting its financial affairs unilaterally. The State of Punjab has, however, increased the Grant-in-Aid from Rs 20 crore to Rs 45.30 crore during the financial year 2020-21, which amounts to an increase of more than 75 per cent. Besides, nearly Rs 100 crore is collected annually by the university from the affiliated colleges located in Punjab, said Hayer.

“This House strongly and unanimously feels that any decision to change the character of Panjab University won’t be acceptable to the people of Punjab and therefore, strongly recommends that no change in the nature and character of this university should be considered by the government of India,” he said while reading the resolution.

The resolution said that any proposal for the same, if under consideration, should be dropped with immediate effect.

“This House strongly recommends to the state government to take up the matter with the central government so as not to alter the nature and character of the Panjab University,” it added.

Participating in the discussion, BJP MLA Jangi Lal Mahajan said, I am surprised that a resolution has been brought on an issue which does not exist.”

He asked whether the Centre has sent any proposal for turning PU into a central university or any letter received by the state government or is there any statement of the representative of the central government.

“When there is no such thing, then why is it being considered that PU will be converted into central university, he asked.

Mahajan said, I want to make it clear that the Centre has no such proposal or intention.

BJP MLA Ashwani Sharma too said there was no need for such a resolution when there is no move of turning PU into a central university.

Congress MLA Pargat Singh, however, supported the resolution, stating that the emotions of the people of Punjab were connected with PU.

Congress legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira accused the Centre of trying to take over PU from Punjab.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali also supported the resolution.

Over a week ago, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had sought 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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