Strong In Numbers, Punjab And Haryana Governments Face Internal Threats

Both Manohar Lal Khattar and Amarinder Singh are facing challenges from powerful leaders in their respective parties.

Strong In Numbers, Punjab And Haryana Governments Face Internal Threats

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been challenged by his own Home Minister.

Chandigarh:

Haryana and Punjab may be ruled by different parties, but they are both busy dousing internal fires emerging from discontent in their ranks.

The BJP's Manohar Lal Khattar returned to power as the Haryana Chief Minister for the second term in October, with ally Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala as his deputy. But fissures have erupted in his government already, with another powerful party leader in the state raising the banner of revolt against the Chief Minister.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij has been tussling with Manohar Lal Khattar over who should head the state intelligence department since the day of government formation. The controversy took root earlier this month, when Mr Vij noticed on the state assembly's web portal that the Chief Minister had decided to keep the state's Crime Investigation Department (CID) with himself.

"The CID, as per the Business of the Haryana Government (Allocation) Rules-1974, comes under the home department. While the Chief Minister is supreme, he can take over the department only by amending rules through the state cabinet," he said. Despite Manohar Lal Khattar citing past instances where Chief Ministers held the CID as a separate portfolio, Mr Vij has refused to give in so far.

Punjab's Congress-led Amarinder Singh government, which will complete three years in power soon, faces a similar problem. In this case, the Chief Minister is pitted against Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Bajwa, who called for a "Captain Mukt Congress" in an interview to a television channel on Monday.

Amarinder Singh is widely referred to as "Captain" in the state.

Mr Bajwa had first taken on Amarinder Singh in 2012, after the Congress' defeat to the BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal combine in the state elections. The party high command appointed him as the Punjab Congress chief in 2013, and it was only after a great struggle that Amarinder Singh was able to dethrone him two years later.

The state cabinet has demanded disciplinary action against Mr Bajwa for his remark against the Chief Minister, but the latter maintains that he cannot be "browbeaten" by such tactics. "I am accountable only to the people of Punjab. It is disappointing that Amarinder Singh has decided to hide behind his reluctant cabinet colleagues instead of coming out to face me himself," he said.

The cause of Mr Bajwa's discontent was a recent public declaration by Amarinder Singh that he will not quit politics "until every youngster in Punjab is employed".

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