Newly elected Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab came under fire from opposition parties on Tuesday, alleging it is being run through "remote control" from Delhi where party national convener Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting with state's top bureaucrats in absence of CM Bhagwant Mann.
Sources in the Aam Aadmi Party said that Kejriwal held a meeting with "top officers" of Punjab on Monday to discuss ways to implement the party's promise of providing 300 units of free electricity in the state.
Former chief minister Amarinder Singh called Bhagwant Mann a "rubber stamp" while Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu alleged it is a "breach of federalism."
Congress Legislative Party leader in Punjab Partap Singh Bajwa claimed that people of the state did not vote for the government which was to be "remote controlled" from Delhi.
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal also dubbed Kejriwal's meeting as "unconstitutional and unacceptable".
However, there was no immediate reaction over the controversy from the Delhi government headed by Kejriwal.
On Monday, Kejriwal had held a meeting with the Punjab chief secretary, secretary (power) and chairman of the state power utility in Delhi over the electricity-related issue, even as Bhagwant Mann was not present in the meeting, the sources said.
Mann, who met Kejriwal in Delhi earlier in the day, tweeted in Punjabi and Hindi, "Had a good meeting with our leader and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Will give a good news very soon to the people of Punjab."
Kejriwal retweeted Mann's tweet saying, "We will together change Delhi, Punjab and the entire country. People are very much sad and distressed. They are fed up with dirty and corrupt politics of politicians and parties. We have to work day and night for people."
When asked about the meeting, Punjab Transport Minister Laljit Singh Bhullar said Kejriwal is the party's national convener and even if he has held a meeting, then it should not be a big issue.
AAP spokesperson in Punjab Malwinder Kang said, "People come from far and wide to see the Kejriwal model of governance. If he has held an informal meeting, which is for the benefit of the people of Punjab, then it should be welcomed."
Congress MLA Partap Bajwa questioned CM Mann about the meeting.
"Punjab CM @BhagwantMann ji should inform us of Delhi CM & Ministers have indeed been meeting with our officers in absence of CM & Pb Ministers. If so, this is a terrible violation of our rights as a State. The people of Pb (Punjab) did not vote for Govt to be remote controlled from Delhi," said Bajwa in his tweet.
Former chief minister Amarinder Singh called Bhagwant Mann a "rubber stamp."
"Worst was feared, worst happened. @ArvindKejriwal has taken over Punjab much before it was expected to happen. That @BhagwantMann is a rubber stamp was a foregone conclusion already, now Kejriwal has proved it right by chairing Punjab officers' meeting in Delhi," said Singh in his tweet.
Taking a dig at AAP, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring asked whether senior state officials will have to be present in Kejriwal's 'darbar'.
"Is Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann the head only in name," asked Warring.
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said it is a "breach of federalism."
"Punjabs IAS officers summoned by @ArvindKejriwal in CM @BhagwantMann's absence. This exposes the Defacto CM & Delhi remote control. Clear breach of federalism, insult to Punjabi pride. Both must clarify," said Sidhu in his tweet.
SAD chief Sukhbir Badal in his tweet dubbed it "unconstitutional and unacceptable" and tagged the tweet of his party leader Daljit Singh Cheema, who accused the AAP government in Delhi of interfering in the matter of Punjab.
"We have heard a lot about Delhi as Union Govt interfering into the internal affairs of the states. But, it is for the first time that we are seeing Delhi, as State Govt directly interfering into the internal affairs of Punjab Govt," said Cheema.
Last month, the Aam Aadmi Party stormed into power in Punjab, winning 92 of 117 seats. The Congress had won only 18 seats.