THE CONGRESS government in Punjab is considering formulating a policy to ensure high-security government accommodation for former chief ministers of the state. The Amarinder government, a top official said, has formed a panel comprising Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) N S Kalsi and Director General of Police Suresh Arora to finalise the draft of the policy. The panel is likely to meet shortly to discuss the issue.
A senior official said, “In a private accommodation, there are several issues. Tents are to be placed outside the houses for the security personnel.” He added, “So, a policy will be worked out for the former chief ministers.”
Currently, there are two former CMs, namely Parkash Singh Badal, currently the SAD MLA from Lambi, and Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former rival of Amarinder who lost this Assembly election.
Amarinder, who took over in March, is himself an ex-CM-in-waiting as he had announced prior to the polls that this would be his last innings.
Amarinder had offered government accommodation to Badal, who “politely” turned it down. Bhattal lives in government housing meant for ministers and as per rules, may have to vacate it soon.
Last year, the BJP government led by Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana had stripped former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Cabinet rank, withdrawing security, accommodation, vehicles and other staff that came with the minister’s rank.
The Khattar government said the scheme to give Cabinet rank to former CMs was formulated by the Hooda government. The Khattar government, which took over in October 2014, cited “high budget” and demands from various quarters to do away with the Cabinet rank given to Hooda.