The Punjab Bhawan controversy was re-ignited Wednesday with Congress MLA Barindermeet Singh Pahra demanding in the Vidhan Sabha that room rent charges should be recovered from the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General as they have had permanent rooms reserved there for the past three years.
With Congress and AAP MLAs applauding, Pahra said he had booked rooms in the Bhawan in New Delhi for March 4-6 but has received no confirmation yet as no official was answering his phone calls.
“I know how to get a room there and that I will manage. But this is about respect of MLAs. Where is the accountability of officials? MLA Kuldip Zira was told by the officials at Punjab Bhawan that he should vacate his room at end of booking period else his belongings will be forcibly removed. The Chief Secretary and Nanda saab (AG) have had permanent rooms there for three years. The rent for this period should be recovered from them,” said Pahra.
The issue had also come up for discussion Tuesday when AAP and Congress MLAs had complained that they were not allocated rooms in the VIP Block ‘A’ of Punjab Bhawan in New Delhi and that priority was given to bureaucrats even though they ranked lower than MLAs in protocol.
Intervening in the matter, Speaker Rana K P Singh said he had made assurances to the House in this matter Tuesday. “I had called the Chief Secretary today but he is appearing in the Supreme Court. It is my responsibility to protect your rights,” he said.
Pahra said that even as Speaker of Vidhan Sabha, Rana K P Singh was not entitled to a permanent room in Vidhan Sabha and termed this as “shameful”.
The MLA said he had been unable to get a flat allotted to him in Chandigarh for the past three years. “There are empty houses in Sector 39. If government officials are entitled to them then why not MLAs,” he asked.
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