AAP MLA from Jagraon Saravjit Kaur Manuke took a bus from Jagraon at 7 am Tuesday to reach Chandigarh to attend the ongoing session of the Punjab Assembly. In the evening, she was back in Jagraon, again travelling on a bus.
AAP MLA from Dirba Harpal Singh Cheema has travelled to Chandigarh twice on bus to attend the session and is now staying put in Chandigarh to attend remaining session.
Reason: These new MLAs from the main Opposition party are yet to get vehicles of their choice as the transport department was offering them either Gypsies or too old Innova cars.
“I have been called at least thrice by the officials. I was first asked whether I wanted Gypsy or Innova. I said I wanted Innova. Then they said they are getting an Innova repaired and it would be made available to me soon. I continue to wait for that. In the absence of any vehicle, I had to take a bus to travel from Jagraon to Chandigarh to attend the session,” Manuke said.
“I do not need any security. Gypsy is basically for security and an escort vehicle,” Manuke said, whose husband works in education department and family has a Maruti A Star car, used by his husband. MLAs are provided with either an Innova or a Gypsy, the vehicle categorised into security vehicle.
“I have been given a Gypsy, which is in a bad condition. I had requested for Innova, but they say it’s not available and that I would be given one when new vehicles are purchased. I have a back problem and cannot travel in a Gypsy, the seating of which is not good for such problem,” said Cheema.
In pursuit of “better” vehicles, a few MLAs head straight to the Transport department the moment Assembly session ends.
On Monday, AAP MLA from Jaito Master Baldev Singh dashed into the sector-17 office of State Transport Commissioner to make an “in-person request” that he wanted Innova, and not a Gypsy. “I do not own a vehicle. Gypsy will be of not much use to me. So I have requested for an Innova,” Baldev Singh said.
A few of AAP MLAs who have managed to get Innova are not satisfied with the condition of the vehicle.
“The Innova given to me is in very bad shape. Its dashboard is damaged and tyres are not in good condition. Also, it makes much noise during travel. Following my request, officials said they would get the dashboard repaired, but I will have to wait for the replacement of tyres,” said AAP MLA from Maur Jagdev Singh. AAP MLA from Mehal Kalan Kulwant Singh, who has managed to get an Innova, said, “have a motorcycle. I had requested for Innova. I got one, but it is in really bad condition. It takes long to start its engine. Air-conditioner is no good either. Tyres are not in good condition.”
AAP MLA from Bathinda Rural Rupinder Kaur Ruby has got her Innova replaced as the earlier one was not much road-worthy. “It halted on a road in Chandigarh one day due to some snag,” Ruby said, adding that she was hopeful of getting new vehicles when transport department makes the purchases.
Information gathered by The Indian Express reveals that lion’s share of Innova cars has gone to ruling Congress legislators, with 54 of them getting Innova while 12 got Gypsy. Congress MLA from Bhoa Joginder Singh has refused security vehicle and so did AAP MLA from Mansa Nazar Singh Manshahia. Among the ministers, Manpreet Badal has refused official vehicle and security. Instead of Toyota Camry for which she is entitled as minister, Congress’s Aruna Chaudhary has opted to retain Innova she had as Dinanagar MLA in SAD-BJP rule.
With Manshahia not opting for security vehicle, the remaining 19 MLAs of AAP and two Lok Insaf Party MLAs have or will get security vehicles. Among the total 21 MLAs of AAP and Lok Insaf Party together, Transport department has a break-up of 10 Innova cars and 11 Gypsies for them so far as AAP MLAs want to replace Gypsies with Innovas.
For the 18 MLAs of SAD-BJP alliance, eight Innovas and 10 Gypsies have been allocated. An official of the Transport department said majority of the MLAs of Congress and SAD who opted for Gypsy was because they wanted it as sort of an escort vehicle.
“We are getting the requests and may hand over the Gypsies to police department before we go in for purchasing new Innova vehicles to give to the MLAs,” said an official of the department, wishing not to be named.