Former Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Monday hit out against his own party’s government in Punjab saying that state’s money was going into private pockets instead of filling its empty coffers. Sidhu was addressing an audience of NRIs at the Indian Overseas Congress’s “Speak Up India” initiative.
He alleged that money was collected by “front-men and the mafia”, while the state turned poor and its revenue collections dwindled.
While he blamed all governments since 1997 for landing state in a financial mess, he did not spare his own party’s current government too.
He said that Rs 15,000 crore debt on Punjab in 1997 had gone up to almost Rs 2.50 lakh crore in the current fiscal. He said that while pointing out that it was Rs 1.50 lakh crore in 2017, when Congress took reigns of the state from the Akalis.
Bringing up the issue of sand mining mafia in the state, he said: “If Tamil Nadu can make hundreds of crores from sand mining and excise, why cannot Punjab do it? We are a land of five rivers compared to our states. But why do not we have that kind of revenue?”
Continuing his attack, he said, “I am sad to say that rulers of Punjab have mortgaged the state. I will be happy only when the son of a rickshaw puller will become an IAS officer after studying in a government school. That will be a Punjab of my dreams….Politics has become dirty now. The leaders are behaving as puppets. We need leaders who are there for people without caring about any losses or gains.”
Capt responds with ‘no comments’
Asked about Sidhu’s address to Punjabi diaspora where he blamed all state governments since 1997 for pushing the state into indebtedness, CM Amarinder Singh said that he did not want to make any comment on what the cricketer-turned-politician had said. Amarinder, however, blamed Akalis for the dwindling economic situation of Punjab.
Responding to a query on the alleged ‘mafia-raj’ in the state, the CM categorically said that both the civil and police administrations were pro-actively involved in checking the illegal sale of liquor and sand.
No Cabinet expansion on cards
Trashing reports of a Cabinet reshuffle for former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s re-entry, Amarinder said he was not going reshuffle his team. “My ministers are working very well. We are engaged in the battle against Covid. This is not the time to effect any rejig. Our Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, Medical Education Minister O P Soni, both are working very well in this health crisis. Why should I change anyone?” he asked.
Asked to comment whether Navjot Singh Sidhu could be given any new responsibility, the Chief Minister said it was up to the party high command to take a final decision whether Sidhu is to be given any responsibility in state or Centre
Sidhu has been away from the political scene for a year now ever since he had resigned from Cabinet in July last year. He has been active on social media lately through his ‘Jittega Punjab’ You Tube channel.
(With PTI inputs)
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