The Punjab governments decision to rename an upcoming township adjacent to Chandigarh as New Chandigarh isnt the first issue over which it finds itself in conflict with Haryana.
Controversies between them,particularly the dispute pertaining to sharing of river waters,surface every now and then,and especially just before an election.
The two states had recently sparred over an international airport terminus coming up at Chandigarh airport. While Punjab wanted the airport to be now renamed Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh International Airport,Mohali,because the international terminus would be located in Mohali in Punjab,Haryana put its foot down over this appropriation.
The New Chandigarh nomenclature is as transparent in its bid to cash in on the allure of a city that continues to enjoy a unique status in India,and not just for being the capital of two states.
With the issue of its ownership such a touchy subject between Haryana and Punjab,it was expected of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to object,describing Punjabs move as unethical. His counterpart Parkash Singh Badal didnt help matters by stressing that Punjab had the first and legitimate right over Chandigarh as it was the parent state from which Haryana was carved out,and that Chandigarh was built to compensate Punjab for the loss of its capital Lahore to Pakistan.
Hooda retaliated by affirming that Chandigarh was located in Ambala district,which had been allocated to Haryana.
The renewal of an unnecessary and at one level mischievous controversy apart,it is certain that Punjab did not rename the area to strengthen its claim on Chandigarh. The decision was purely driven by economic considerations. The area,earlier known by the decidedly different Mullanpur Garibdas,has suddenly seen a change of character with its name of New Chandigarh.
Several prominent personalities in the state have purchased farmhouses and plots in the area over the years,as established by a judicial probe,and their value will obviously shoot through the roof with this move.
Either way,expect this issue to remain hot till the polls next year.
Vipin is Editor,Chandigarh
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