Under pressure after popular singer Sidhu Moose Wala’s killing and a shock defeat in the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab is planning to target former Congress ministers whose roles have come under a cloud in different corruption cases to try and negate the bad optics arising out of the recent events.
A belligerent Punjab finance minister Harpal Cheema announced on the floor of the house on Wednesday that former “functionaries” in the previous Congress government, who indulged in widespread corruption, will soon end up in the jails of the state. Cheema was addressing the house on his Budget proposals.
The AAP leader even cited instances of corruption by former ministers, though he chose not to name them. “There are several of them. There have been malpractices in awarding contracts for construction of roads by the PWD and the contracts given at much higher rates for building the bodies of buses purchased by the government,” he said, adding that all these cases of corruption were under investigation.
Cheema alleged that a former minister had ordered bulk purchase of weighing machines for babies at double the market price. “These machines are available for Rs 4,000- Rs 4,200 per unit, but these were purchased at double the rate. Should we not call it corruption and investigate these cases?” he asked.
It was not just Cheema who took the attack to the opposition camp. Even chief minister Bhagwant Mann, in his concluding address on the Budget proposals, claimed that his government has already started looking at papers that reveal acts of omission and commission by many in the Congress regime. “Two of the former ministers have already approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court, even before we questioned them on the issue. It proves they had done something grossly wrong,” he said.
However, leader of opposition in the assembly Partap Singh Bajwa, seemed unfazed by the threats. “Please go ahead and inquire into irregularities, if any. But do not target politicians because of political reasons. If the politicians did do anything wrong, they were supported by bureaucrats. Do take action against them as well,” he said.
With inputs from News18