August 7, 2020 12:14:55 am
The Punjab Cabinet ministers Thursday demanded immediate expulsion of Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo from the Congress days after the two leaders criticised the state government over the recent hooch tragedy.
In a joint statement, the minister said, “The actions of the two Rajya Sabha MPs call for immediate and strict action against them by the party high command. Bajwa and Dullo should be sacked for attacking their own Congress government in the state over the hooch tragedy.”
However, the two MPs remained defiant and issued a joint statement in response, saying not criticising the government even if it is working “against” the interest of the public is “against the principles of democracy”.
“The contents of the press note released by the Government of Punjab today are an afterthought, added in 24 hours after the meeting had taken place,” they claimed.
The Cabinet had met on Wednesday and no minister raised the issue of Bajwa and Dullo’s “indiscipline.”
The demand for action against the two Rajya Sabha members came two days after Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said he will write to AICC president Sonia Gandhi to show the door to the two MPs, who he said were following the “playbook” that Sachin Pilot adopted in Rajasthan.
Apart from targeting their own party’s government over the liquor tragedy that claimed 113 lives, Bajwa and Dullo also petitioned Governor V P Singh Badnore for a probe by the CBI as well as the Enforcement Directorate into the alleged “illegal” liquor trade in state.
By bypassing party and government forums to protest against the handling of the hooch tragedy and by approaching the Governor, the MPs have not only attacked the very basis of democratic governance but also sought to undermine the Punjab police. “This is not the way democratic systems and institutions are meant to function,” the ministers said.
The ministers in their statement called for the whip to be immediately cracked on the duo, without any laxity or delay. “Indiscipline should not be tolerated at any time, least of all when Assembly elections in the state are less than two years away,” they said.
Questioning their “concern over the hooch tragedy”, the ministers said the two MPs had never, in their Rajya Sabha term, bothered to raise any issue of the interest of the state they represent. “Why did they not press for the completion of the ED probe into the drugs issue during the Akali regime? Why did they not protest in the House against the anti-farm Ordinances of the Union Government? Why did they never speak about the CBI’s failure to probe the sacrilege cases?” the ministers asked.
A CBI probe was needed only if the police failed to deliver, which was definitely not the case at present. The whole of Punjab had been witness to CBI’s total lack of efficiency in investigating the sacrilege cases, which eventually the state police is having to solve, they said. Even the targeted killings were solved not by CBI but by the state police, the ministers said.
The decision to recommend a CBI probe rests with the state government, and not with two MPs, the ministers said.
Instead of feeling even remotely apologetic, these MPs continue to be on the offensive, going so far as launching a personal attack on PPCC president Sunil Jakhar, they said.
“How can party MPs from a state go around openly criticising the chief of their own state unit,” they asked, adding that the Congress had a strong leadership in Punjab and did not need two “indisciplined” members denting the image.
Meanwhile, in their joint statement Bajwa and Dullo said, “If the performance of the party cannot be criticised even if the government is working against the interest of the public which has reposed faith in the party and elected them to power, then this is against the principles of democracy”.
When Bajwa was PPCC chief current Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had been opposing and criticising not only the PPCC but also the party high command, they said. “He even had the audacity to criticize Rahul Gandhi who is our esteemed leader,” they said.
Both claimed that they were “informed by cabinet colleagues of the chief minister that no discussion took place regarding the statement made by us” in the cabinet meeting.
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