Stating that each penny plundered from the people of Punjab will be recovered from the “nexus of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats”, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Wednesday said in the Vidhan Sabha that no guilty person will be spared and strict action will be taken against them even if they join a “powerful political party”, the remark being seen as a reference to some Congress leaders recently joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“On the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh today, I vow on the floor of the House that every paisa would be recovered and accounted for. There is a lot of money on that side,” Mann said pointing towards the Opposition
“We will recover that money to return it to people. Every benami property and the nexus behind it would be exposed.
Mountains were bought, forest land too was not spared…action will be taken against all those found involved. We are auditing all documents. I want to warn all those that even if they join a powerful political party, they would not be spared,” he added while winding up the debate on the budget presented by Finance Minister Harpal Cheema.
He said politicians who have not even been named by government agencies for corruption are running from pillar to post seeking refuge, which reflects the fear in their minds about their sins. “We did not even name anyone. Still one of them went to high court,” he said without naming former Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who had moved High Court seeking that the government should issue him a notice in an inquiry before arresting him. Mocking Leader of
Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa for demanding that conditions in jails should be improved, Mann said, “Bajwa sahib knows the situation of his people. He wants us to give facilities in jail.”
He said the health and education system was milked by the private sector as the governments of the day created a market for them. “The poor had to go to 5-star private hospitals. So is the case of schools. Private schools came up because the government schools did not provide education. We will sort everything out.”
He also hit at the Opposition for criticising AAP’s choice for seven Rajya Sabha seats from state. “They told us Raghav Chadha does not know Punjabi. Tell me how man marks did Ambika Soni get in Punjabi? Then they said we sent members from other states. What did you do? You fielded Ajay Maken from Haryana. Do not forget that former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh remained RS member from Assam and Rajasthan.”
The CM said he did not need to get into politics as he was doing well as a ‘kalakaar’. “But you cannot make people laugh if they have lost kin to drugs and do not have means to keep kitchen fire burning. I had to make the choice.
Now, I assure you that we will transform the state. We will try to pay off the debt, borrow less and give money back to people.”
On the AAP’s poll promise of giving Rs 1,000 to women, Mann said it will be implemented soon.
He said his government is in the process of resource mobilisation and once it is completed, this promise will be honoured. “When we raise resources, be it in two months or four months, our next step will be to give Rs 1,000 each to the women of the state,” he said.
Listing several e-governance initiatives taken by his government, the chief minister said from the next session, the Assembly will also get a new look. He said from the next session, touchscreens will be installed in the Assembly. Hailing the “pro-people” budget presented by the finance minister, the chief minister said the opposition has been caught in a peculiar situation as it has been jostling hard to find any shortcoming in such a “progressive” budget.