The ruling Congress behaved more like the Opposition with its members cornering the government on several issues confronting the state, during the budget session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha that concluded on Wednesday.
From lack of floor management to members cornering their own party’s ministers during Question Hours throughout the session, Congress MLAs appeared to be taking their own to task.
The ruling party members raised issues like seeking renegotiation of the controversial Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), made allegations of corruption and sand and transport mafia thriving in the state. A few MLAs like Kulbir Singh Zira even criticised Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh for “being too kind on SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia by giving him a long time to speak.”
Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa faulted his own government for “not taking action against Majithia and emboldening him to take on the government”.
The MLAs were heard taking on the bureaucracy, criticising Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh. The issue of officials being given preference in Punjab Bhawan in Delhi over legislators for booking a room was also raised on the floor of the House by MLAs Parminder Singh Pinki, Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, Amrinder Singh
Raja Warring and Barindermeet Singh Pahda, who even demanded that the tariff of a room permanently booked for the Chief Secretary be recovered from him. The Chief Secretary remained absent from the House, not attending the procedings for a single day.
Raja Warring and Pargat Singh went all out to take on the government on not cancelling the PPAs, and its inability to nail the sand and transport mafia. Warring was aggressively vociferous with the CM present in the House.
Surjit Singh Dhiman, a Congress member, while speaking on the Budget, rued that corruption was prevailing and no work was being done. He said, “If a public work requires a fee of Rs 1 lakh, we have to pay Rs 2 lakh for the same. It should be controlled,” he had said.
No Congress leader was willing to speak on the issue. A party leader, on anonymity said, “What all happened is shocking. If the MLAs have to raise an issue of not getting a room in a Circuit House on the floor, you can well imagine how the party and the government are being handled. There was no CLP before or during the session. Had the CLP been held, all these issues could have been taken up there and not on the floor of the House where every word is recorded. We will be remembered till posterity for all that happened. It is a mockery of the government. ”
PPCC chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar said he would not like to comment on the issue.
Jakhar attends CM’s dinner
Amid rumours of a gulf between Amarinder and Jakhar, the PPCC chief attended a dinner at the CM’s residence on Tuesday. Amarinder had invited all the MLAs, ministers and the PPCC chief. A few ministers and MLAs skipped the dinner meet. Sources said that the CM was unwell and could not stay with MLAs for a long time.
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