Can Punjab CM’s Anti-Corruption Act Help AAP Regain Lost Ground in HP?

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By: Gopal Puri
Updated: 25 May, 2022 5:24 pm IST
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s move to sack his Health Minister Vijay Singla not only earned his plaudits on the social media but appeared to have rekindled hope for an embattled Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the poll-bound Himachal Pradesh.

Not only that, the Punjab police’s anti-corruption branch also arrested the MLA from Mansa soon after he was removed from the cabinet.

Soon after the internet was abuzz with AAP leaders highlighting the move as their resolve to fight corruption in the society.

AAP, which had lost its tallest leader in the state to Bharatiya Janata Party recently, is struggling for survival in the state. But Mann’s move appeared to have invigorated the party cadre as they hoped to revive the party in the state.

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AAP leaders took out a rally in the home district of BJP union minister Anurag Thakur in Hamirpur to mark this incident. On various social media platforms, AAP leaders started a campaign to laud Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for his prompt decision to sack and take legal action against his minister.

Malwinder Singh Kang, AAP Punjab’s chief spokesperson, stated, “The Mann government has a zero-tolerance policy for corruption, whether a minister or an MLA, the corrupt will not be spared.”

“People have high hopes from the Aam Aadmi Party’s government to root out corruption in the state, and that they will live up to those expectations. He claimed that the Chief Minister has set an example of integrity by dismissing his cabinet minister, Dr Vijay Singla, who is accused of seeking a 1% commission for releasing departmental tenders,” Kang said in a statement.

“The Chief Minister himself investigated the matter and acquired proof as soon as the complaint was made. Minister Singla was then interrogated and confessed to the same. Dr Vijay Singla was removed from the cabinet by the CM, who also ordered swift legal action,” he confirmed.

AAP’s rivals are also quick to react to the incident as both BJP and Congress feel that the incident is just the tip of an iceberg and there is more to it.

BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said the arrest of Singla in a corruption case was just a tip of an iceberg.

He said that the AAP government, led by Bhagwant Singh as chief minister and Arvind Kejriwal as its “patronage”, stood exposed completely within two months of its coming to power.

Chugh said, “The incident indicated that the entire government was indulging in corruption and Singla has just been made a scapegoat. The entire incident was meant to fool the people of the state where the AAP government has completely failed to deliver.”

Chugh said that it was unheard of that a minister would ever indulge in corruption without the knowledge of his seniors.

“Kejriwal enacted the same drama in Delhi when he sacked his food and supplies minister allegedly on charges of corruption. Now, Kejriwal is repeating that model in Punjab as well so that the people stopped talking about the failure of the Punjab government on all fronts,” Chugh said, adding that Punjab wants to know what is Delhi connection in the entire case.

He also alleged that all the welfare schemes announced by AAP before coming to power have been put in cold storage and even sensitive issues like drugs and Bargari have not been touched.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring said that the instant sacking and arrest of Health Minister Singla was just a face-saver for the Aam Aadmi Party as it feared public and media backlash over rampant corruption prevailing in the corridors of power.

Asserting that the Congress party’s charges about massive corruption prevailing in the government had proved true, Warring said, “We stand vindicated by no less a person than the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann himself revealing corruption by one of his ministers.”

Warring hoped the Chief Minister does not stop at Singla but takes action against everyone. “Your real test starts now”, Warring told CM Mann, adding, “You can’t get away by just making a symbolic case while letting others go scot-free as Singla was not the only suspect person in the pack, there are others as well”.

“The very way the Chief Minister went on to announce the sacking of the minister on the charges of demanding bribes indicates that he wanted to save his skin,” Warring said.

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