Raghav Chadha’s appointment as Punjab advisory head could trigger fresh heat on AAP for Delhi interference

AAP MP Raghav Chadha was appointed chairman of the Punjab government’s advisory committee. File
| Photo Credit: PTI

Even as Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann continues to be in the line of fire from several quarters after he appointed Rajya Sabha Member Raghav Chadha as chairman of the State government’s advisory committee, Cabinet members have endorsed Mr. Mann’s decision. But the move to rope in the close aide of Aam Aadmi Party’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has the potential to trigger heat on the AAP over the ‘Delhi Darbar’s’ interference in Punjab.

Opposition parties have constantly accused CM Bhagwant Mann for handing over the State affairs to the party’s ‘high command’ in Delhi by setting up the adhoc advisory committee and appointing Mr. Chadha as its chairman. But with the State cabinet also approving the decision, the clamour against the AAP is likely to grow louder in Punjab.

The Shiromani Akali Dal had termed the setting up of the committee and Mr. Chadha’s appointment as a ‘betrayal to Punjabis’, and the Congress has been asserting that Mr. Chadha is the “proxy of AAP’s Delhi Darbar” in Punjab.

According to the department of General Administration, Punjab, the Council of Ministers in its meeting held on July 28, approved the decision, dated July 6, constituting a temporary and adhoc committee for tendering advice to the government as and when sought, and the order appointing the chairman of the aforesaid committee, including the terms and conditions of the appointment, that were issued on July 11, 2022. A copy of the letter-order issued on September 2, 2022, is with The Hindu.

Earlier, on July 6, Punjab Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua issued a notification stating that the Chief Minister of Punjab has undertaken a review of the working of government at various levels and is of the view that a body (temporary in nature) is required to tender advice to the government of Punjab on matters of public importance pertaining to public administration. Therefore, it had been decided to constitute a temporary committee to advise the government of the state of Punjab on matters of public importance pertaining to public administration, it added.

Later, on July 11, an order by the Chief Secretary stated that Raghav Chadha has been appointed as the chairman of the committee, detailing the terms of the appointment. It mentioned that Mr. Chadha will not be entitled to any compensation, remuneration or perks of any kind or nomenclature in respect of his appointment. He shall not even be entitled to payments that are compensatory in nature, including any reimbursements. Also, the nature of his appointment would be temporary.

Political furore

Mr. Chadha’s appointment created a political furore in the State. Off late, Mr. Chadha, who in September was appointed as AAP’s Gujarat co-in-charge for the Assembly election, has been busy with campaigning in Gujarat, but the Opposition has been relentlessly raking up the issue of the Punjab government being run through a ‘proxy’ from the ‘Delhi Darbar’ or the ‘high command’.

After his appointment, Mr. Chadha had been meeting officials of the Punjab government. In September, when he met the newly appointed chairpersons of the Punjab government boards and corporations, the Congress hit out at the AAP. The Leader of the Opposition Congress’s Partap Singh Bajwa asked Mr. Mann under what capacity Mr. Chadha met newly appointed chairpersons. “Mr. Mann should define and explain the role of Raghav Chadha in Punjab,” he had quipped.

The Punjab government meanwhile has asserted that in his role as chairperson Mr. Chadha shall shoulder the responsibility of overseeing the conception and implementation of pro-people initiatives of the AAP government in Punjab and advise the government on matters of finance accordingly.

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