The ruling Congress in Punjab had to face some embarrassing moments during the Question Hour on the second day of the Budget Session when ministers in Amarinder Singh came under attack from legislators from treasury benches over tardy pace of development work in their respective constituencies.
On at least four occasions, various ministers had to respond to close questioning by their own party colleagues over delay in projects and a demand for a definite time frame within which they would be completed. The chief minister was present in the House when these exchanges took place and at one point SAD MLA and former minister, Bikram Majithia, even took pot shots at the Congress government for being targetted by their own members.
Public works department (PWD) minister Vijay Inder Singla had to face uncomfortable questions from Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh over the deteriorating quality of roads in the Doaba area. The original question regarding the Phillaur-Nakodar-Kapurthala road had been put by Akali MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala. Rana Gurjit and Shahkot MLA Hardev Laddi, also of Congress, supported Wadala and demanded that the condition of roads in the area be improved.
“I want to tell the minister that Doaba is also a part of Punjab. You go to Malwa and see the network of roads that the region has. Good roads are needed in Doaba too and they are in a very bad shape. Please call a meeting of all MLAs cutting across party lines so that we can inform where the roads are needed. Ask us where repairs are needed to be done. Doaba is being discriminated against. The last government did it and I am sure this will not happen under Capt Amarinder Singh’s watch,” Rana Gurjit said.
Laddi also spoke in the same vein and said that the roads needed to be repaired ahead of 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
Singla responded by saying that he will call a meeting of all the MLAs and prepare a proposal for repairs. “I would also request you to visit the union ministry also which had promised to release funds for the roads in the area but which are yet to be released,” he said.
Another sparring bout took place between Amloh MLA, Randeep Singh Nabha, and industry minister Sundar Sham Arora. Nabha had asked a question seeking details about funds released for the construction of steel chamber and industrial training centre in Mandi Gobindgarh. Upon being told that no funds had been released as there was no proposal in writing from the chamber, Nabha contradicted the minister. “I was assured in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting by the Finance Minister that Rs 15 crore will be released for the purpose,” he said.
Nabha demanded that the minister give a time frame for the project. “Maybe I have received less education so I am unable to comprehend what the minister is saying. The letter from steel chamber is just a formality, give me a time frame,” he insisted several times till he got an assurance of six months.
Amargarh MLA, Surjit Singh Dhiman lamented the fact that no step has been taken by the revenue ministry under Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria for construction of new building to house offices of Ahmedgarh sub-division. “Two years have already gone by and only three years are left. When will it be done,” he asked even as another Congress MLA, Hardyal Singh Kamboj, asked that construction work pending in his area may also be completed.
Local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was cornered by Patti MLA Harminder Singh Gill who said that not a single rupee had been spent in his constituency for repair of internal roads ever since the new government assumed office. He also alleged that contracts worth Rs 20 crore were in the hands of an Akali worker and demanded that a inquiry be done into this to which the minister assured that the same will be inquired into.