PUNJAB WANTS TO KNOW!
Mystified Cabinet truce, potential albatross around the neck of the entire Punjab cabinet
- Bir Devinder Singh
Mystified Cabinet truce, potential albatross around the neck of the entire Punjab cabinet




All sordid and unsubstantiated affairs raised by Ministers and Congress MLAs in the public domain for the last two-three weeks are perceived to be buried under the carpet to befool the public, with a mere  apology of the Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh. The Ministers may have buried their hatchets vis a vis the Chief Secretary but many significant questions which causes deep sense of disquiet to general public in Punjab, remained unanswered.

Charanjit Singh Channi needs to explain as to how he settled down his score on categorical objection to the liquor policy which Chief Secretary emphatically promoted and argued in the pre-cabinet meeting on 9th May as Secretary Excise & Taxation, which infuriated Channi and amid heated exchange between Channi and the Chief Secretary, the entire Cabinet staged an unprecedented walk out.
 
Could Mr Channi explains as to how the accumulated losses of 600 Crores by the default of the liquor policy and the anticipated losses of 2000 crores to the State exchequer were drawn out by him, which later got settled between him and the Chief Minister. People of Punjab are entitle to know what transpired in the luncheon meeting at Mohindra Farm and what was the ultimate bargain between them and the CM.

Simple polite and sugar-quoted statement by Manpreet Singh Badal, Finance Minister that the Chief Secretary has apologized thrice for his inappropriate behavior with the Ministers and they have accepted his apologies and the high profile standoff stands resolved and the drama of the absurd is over. As if the inflated egos of certain Ministers were the only problematic issue which Punjab is facing at the moment, during the most trying times of Covid-19 pandemic?
 
Manpreet Singh Badal as Minister for the State Treasury is expected to explain the whole muck that was raised in the past two weeks in the media with reference to the sagging economy of Punjab due to the gigantic pilferage of the State revenue. He is otherwise expected to place before the people of the State his up-to-date appraisal assessment of the State finances in terms of expenditure and receipt.
 
Chief Minister may have bought fragile peace for the time being for him but the bonafide issues pertaining to state finances, massive smuggling of spurious liquor, illegal mining by mining mafia across the state during curfew and lockdown and detection of illicit distilleries in the state yet remain unanswered. In democratic governance Chief Minister and his Cabinet is certainly accountable to the people of Punjab.

People wish to know the fate of the demand for CBI probe, monitored by the High Court to investigate 600 crore losses to the state exchequer which was so loudly raised by Congress MLA from Gidderbaha Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and also that of the sinister role of Chief Secretary’s son Harman Singh in the murky liquor trade as alleged by Raja Warring. 
 
People of the State are entitle to know that at what cost and under which bargain the Chief Minister has finally negotiated Raja Warring's silence. Where are the other Congress MLAs hiding now, who all Tweeted supporting the demand for CBI probe against the Chief Secretary and his son? Are they all still in touch with their conscious after the cabinet truce?

Whether Pargat Singh a forthright MLA still nurses the same sense of grievance against massive corruption in the liquor trade and his demand for constituting a Liquor Corporation in the State still stands, which he made public on a public platform  quite unequivocally and that too very recently?

The silence that prevails after the truce in the cabinet meeting sounds literally fascinating. The mystified Cabinet truce has the potential to become albatross at the end of the day, around the neck of the entire Punjab cabinet. The SAD (Badal) has also very interestingly given up their demand for court monitored CBI Probe in to the charges leveled by the Ministers and the Congress MLAs. 
 
The positioning of Sukhbir Singh Badal was quite baffling when he was seen batting for the Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh at crescendo in order to  please the Chief Minister, in return of his many suspicious and unscrupulous obligations.

Whether all those Ministers and MLA’s who took principled stand in unison against the CS and massive corruption in excise department, are comfortable now with their own conscience by turning a blind eye to  brazen plundering of the state wealth and the huge revenue losses to the State?
 
The mystified truce has removed a lid on the harsh reality, how certain people in Punjab are getting richer by every passing day at the cost of the State. Oh God, What a unique case of fallen morality!!

 

(The author is a former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and a politician celebrated for his grasp on legislative affairs.) 




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