Friday, October 1, 2010

Central minister’s visit to Ludhiana was official

LUDHIANA, October 1: Ludhiana MP and the national spokesperson of the All India Congress Committee Manish Tewari today took strong exception to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal misleading the Punjab assembly on Thursday that the visit of the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats CP Joshi to Ludhiana was "personal".

Tewari regretted that Badal seems to have been misled by his officials to mislead the house about the official visit of the central minister. He disclosed, it was for the first time in the country that a central minister had attended a meeting of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee and Joshi chose Ludhiana for the same. "May I ask Mr Badal what was personal about it?" Tewari asked, while adding the state government had been informed well in advance.

The Ludhiana MP pointed out, the union minister was accompanied by a team of high level central officials to observe and monitor the implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes in Punjab. Moreover, the minister was also seized of the massive financial scandal involving funds meant for Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).

Regretting that Badal was trying to politicize the visit by saying, "he had been called to give a statement against us", Tewari clarified, Joshi never made any statement against the government. He only revealed the facts. If a district in Rajasthan can avail Rs 300 crores, why can't Punjab, which has so far availed just Rs 110 crores, do the same, Tewari asked, while adding, Badal is a respected and seasoned leader who should not get misled by his officials.

Tewari said, had the state government not been informed about the visit of the minister how come two senior officials of the state, Financial Commissioner Rural Development and Secretary Water Supply attend the meeting. Instead of admitting to have committed serious breach of protocol by not deputing any minister for Joshi's visit, Badal was trying to shield his officers as if it was government not for the people but for the officers. He pointed out, even in IAY, the entire government seems to be working overtime to shield the principal accused.

He disclosed that the breach of protocol issue had been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister as also the misbehaviour by one of the state government officers with the Union Minister during the meeting. The issue was being taken up with Cabinet Secretary and the state Chief Secretary, he said.

Tewari also referred to earlier visit of Union Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh who had come to have on the spot assessment on ongoing work for cleaning of the Budha Nullah had also pointed to the shortcomings of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and Badal, instead of making it to improve its working, went out of way to defend its officials.

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