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Doctors’ selection: VB sitting on report

Anxious last-minute discussions between the Punjab chief minister and the state vigilance bureau chief have held up the submission of the report of the vigilance inquiry.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh |
February 4, 2011 12:22:58 am

Move follows talks with CM; political fallout likely concern

Anxious last-minute discussions between the Punjab chief minister and the state vigilance bureau chief have held up the submission of the report of the vigilance inquiry into the controversial selection of 312 doctors by Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

The political fallout of the report on the Akali-BJP coalition has apparently caused a rethink in the government over the content and direction of the report. Initially keen to take on the PPSC headed by an appointee of the previous Congress regime,the ruling dispensation seems to have developed cold feet after the inquiry reportedly revealed the involvement of not only the Congress appointees in the commission but also the other members appointed by the Akali-BJP government itself.

Sources within the VB say the inquiry has found grave irregularities in the selection of doctors. Apart from other evidence,the record of telephone calls exchanged between the candidates and PPSC members during the course of the selections is considered particularly incriminating.

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The inquiry has also found withdrawal of large amounts of money by a number of selected candidates or their parents prior to the selections. Both increase and decrease of marks by different members of the Commission in order to favour or disfavour candidates has also been found during the inquiry.

VB chief Sumedh Singh Saini has been sitting over the report prepared some time ago,“discussing” its content with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and asking him what to do with it. Informed sources say a politically nervous CM has,after the ouster of Manpreet Badal from the party,been working in a “placate-all” mode and does not wish to rub his own men or BJP’s men the wrong way. Baring his hesitation in accepting the report as is,the CM had in a press conference on January 1,said,“The PPSC selections were done by someone who is the appointee of the previous government. But our men are also being pulled into the controversy.”

This admission by the CM was a rare departure from the public position adopted by him that thousands of appointments had been made by his government during the past four years without a single finger ever being raised about the selection process.

The VB chief,who is himself facing a criminal trial in a Delhi court,also appears reluctant to ruffle any political feathers. Till recently,the bureau focused on registering cases against the political opponents of the Akali-BJP government,especially former Congress CM Captain Amarinder Singh and his close associates.

However,with the Punjab Assembly elections due next year and the Congress seemingly on the comeback trail,the VB chief is said to be carefully weighing his options. Some even hint that he is using the report to leverage a talking point with the Congress.

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