The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab on August 31 informed Punjab and Haryana High Court about withdrawing the decision to dissolve all gram panchayats in the State days after its notification. Opposition parties asserted the withdrawal as a “victory of democracy”.
The Punjab government had issued a notification on August 10, dissolving all gram panchayats, panchayat samitis, and zila parishads in the State. It was also stated that the general election of the members of panchayat samitis and the zila parishads, shall be held by November 25, and of the gram panchayats, shall be held by December 31 this year.
The decision had evoked sharp criticism from the opposition political parties and it was also challenged in the court. While hearing a petition surrounding the notification by SAD leader Gurjeet Singh Talwandi, Punjab Advocate General Vinod Ghai submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the notification would be withdrawn in the next couple of days.
Taking a dig at the AAP, the Leader of the Opposition in Punjab, Partap Singh Bajwa of Congress said that the government taking back its decision to dissolve the panchayats “is the victory of the democratic institutions.”
He said that the AAP government was compelled to take back such an undemocratic decision only after it got pulled up by the Court. “The credibility of our democratic institutions hinges on fair and transparent processes that respect the rights of all citizens, regardless of political affiliations. Therefore, the AAP had no right to tinker with democratic values,” he said in a statement.
Senior SAD leader Daljit Cheema said that the Punjab government had sensed adverse judgment and was left with no choice but to withdraw the notification. “It is a victory of democracy. With this, the anti-democratic face of the AAP has been exposed. The government had no legal argument to defend this dictatorial notification issued for narrow political considerations in the court of law, and hence it was forced to take a U-turn,” he said.