With Leader of Opposition in Punjab Sunil Jakhar demanding a probe into the alleged mismanagement of funds sanctioned by the Centre for various schemes,a seminar on Rural Development Policies and Programmes witnessed trading of allegations. Jakhars remarks were rebutted by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as he addressed the gathering.
The seminar was held in the presence of MLAs of SAD-BJP and the Congress in the presence of Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.
As Congress MLA Jakhar was called to address the gathering,he demanded that a probe be initiated into the mismanagement of funds that the Centre was giving Punjab for various schemes.
In 2010,the CM had in the Punjab Assembly stated that Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has announced to give a blank cheque to meet the expenses of cleaning up the rivers. There should be a probe on whether the money has been properly used. The leaks in the system need to be plugged, Jakhar said.
Jakhar further rued about MLAs being sidelined by extra constitutional institutes and stated that MLAs were not involved in deciding how funds were to be spent. He also raised certain issues such as faulty-drainage system leading to water logging,pollution of rivers and constitution of recommending bodies at the district level,comprising of non-political persons.
However,Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while addressing the gathering did not refrain from taking a few potshots at Jakhar. Quoting UPA chief Sonia Gandhi he said that recently Gandhi stated that it had become a fashion to criticise.
See the records of the river-water cleaning project in the past five years. Work is still going on and in some time the rivers will have clean water, Badal said. The chief minister further added that there was need to rise above party lines on such issues and there was no Central scheme for drainage as referred by Jakhar.
Apart from praising Jairam Ramesh,Badal also went ahead to lavish some compliments on Jakhar and urged him to adopt a different track and work collectively.
Badal,in fact seemed to receive some support from Ramesh as well. There are some flagship programmes of the Centre. While the flags are ours,the ships are of the state. Since Badal has been elected as the CM,we have to work with him. Even though the Congress leaders are not too pleased with my pictures appearing with him, Ramesh said.
Terming the seminar a revolutionary step for the Congress as MLAs from all parties were present,Ramesh said other cabinet ministers would also visit Punjab. Among other demands raised by Congress MLAs was that funds should be at the disposal of the MLAs for their respective constituencies.
Raising the issue MLA Parminder Pinky said MLAs of different states had a large amount of funds that they could spend in their constituencies. Even the councillors in Chandigarh had funds. However these were not given to MLAs in Punjab.