Taking note of a controversy on cabinet minister Sadhu Singh Dharmsot’s name on inaugural plaque of a building at a government school in Nabha, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has prohibited the inclusion of names of any government functionaries, including ministers and MLAs, on foundation stones and inaugural plaques.
It may be mentioned here that the Congress declared to shun VIP culture when it came to power in Punjab, but cabinet minister Sadhu Singh Dharmsot doesn’t seem to have got the message. The MLA from Nabha lost his temper when he saw his name at the third place, not at the top, on the inauguration plaque of a building at a local government school on Thursday. And the whole drama has been captured on video, including his threat to the principal that he could get her suspended from her job.
In the video that has since gone viral on social media, Dharamsot is seen as telling principal Nishi Jalota, "I can suspend you immediately for this mistake. Aren’t you aware, who is the chief guest ?” Despite video evidence, he later denied having anything.
Now, the statement issued by CMO on Friday says that Chief Minister himself is not excluded from these orders, which are aimed at building a stronger connect between the government and the people by removing the VIP culture barriers.
All projects and programmes, including those inaugurated by the Chief Minister or any of his cabinet colleagues, MLAs or other officials, would from now be dedicated to the people of Punjab, Captain Amarinder has announced.
The spokesperson said while there was no bar on government functionaries and leaders inaugurating or laying the foundation stone of any building or project, the practice of having their names inscribed on such stones or plaques was being discarded with immediate effect, following explicit orders from the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister has also urged his ministerial and party colleagues to be humble in dealing with any member of the public. "We are in this position today because of the people of the state and it is our duty to treat them with full respect and humility at all times,” the Chief Minister said, according to the spokesperson.
The Chief Minister had, soon after taking over the state’s governance and in line with the Congress manifesto promise, given up the symbolic red beacon light on his vehicle as a gesture to show his commitment to shedding the VIP culture. All cabinet ministers had also followed suit, even though the manifesto had exempted the Chief Minister and the ministers from the red beacon ban ambit.
Captain Amarinder had again reiterated this commitment to shrugging off the VIP culture a few days ago when he preferred to queue up for entry, check-in and boarding at the Chandigarh airport instead of accepting preferential treatment while leaving for a business trip to Mumbai.
The Punjab cabinet had, at its maiden meeting, approved a series of measures, including removal of the red beacons, to rid the state of the VIP culture. The Congress manifesto has listed this as a key promise for the government.
The Congress government, said the spokesperson, was totally committed to implementing every single promise in the party manifesto in a time-bound manner.