Making it absolutely clear that indiscipline in the party would not be tolerated at any cost, the Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Tuesday categorically said that if Navjot Singh Sidhu wants to contest against him then he is free to do so but that would only lead to Sidhu meeting the fate of General J.J. Singh who lost his security deposit.
In an interview to a private channel, the Chief Minister challenged Navjot Singh Sidhu to clearly spell out whether he is a member of Congress party or not? “If yes, then his continuing rant against his Chief Minister and the Government amounts to gross indiscipline”, said Capt. Amarinder Singh adding the Congress dissident ought to choose the side he was on because in Congress he is indulging in breaking the discipline of the party, BJP won’t take him back and as far as the SAD is concerned, they are also peeved with him.
Pointing out further, the Chief Minister also lauded the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President Sunil Jakhar and said that the latter is doing a good job and discharging his responsibility well so, there is no question of Sidhu being appointed in Sunil Jakhar’s place. “It has been just four years when Sidhu joined the Congress and as such there are many people who have started their careers with the Youth Congress who are much senior to him hence how can he be given Deputy Chief Minister of PPCC President’s post”, asserted Capt. Amarinder Singh.
On the issue of Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sunil Jakhar tendering their resignations, the Chief Minister said that he had rejected the same.
Referring to the recent High Court verdict quashing the SIT probing the Kotkapura firing, the Chief Minister said that new SIT has been approved which would take the case to its logical conclusion. However, he also said that the judgement has gone beyond its brief and it is not a judicial but a political judgement. On the issue of delay in the case, Capt. Amarinder Singh clarified that the recent judgement of the high court had nothing to do with the sacrilege cases and was related to the firing at Kotkapura. The sacrilege cases are going on and already a number of arrests have been made in them. He further said that It was the previous SAD government which had handed over the cases to the CBI and the present Congress Government had to approach the Supreme Court to get back the case files.
Coming to the issue of oxygen supply in the State in view of Covid pandemic, the Chief Minister said that Punjab needs daily 300 MT of oxygen but there has been no positive response from the Central Government. He further added that the State Government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure best possible medical care for the Covid patients and it has adequate number of L2 and L3 beds and is in the process of preparing 2200 more. “On the vaccination front, we have only one day of stock left and that is why the Health Department has been directed to order 30 lakh doses of covishield for 18-45 age group”, said the Chief Minister.
Explaining the issues related to the procurement of wheat and complaints of shortage of gunny bags, he squarely placed the blame on Government of India for it’s shortage. Gunny bag distribution is controlled by the Jute Commissioner appointed by Government of India. There was a demand of 20 crore gunny bags raised by the Punjab Government but the Central Government failed to give the requisite permissions in time. Till as late as the start of procurement on 10th April the State Government was still awaiting permission for procuring about 4 crore gunny bags from Government of India which was finally given on 16th April I e. six days after the the start of procurement, he said.
Elaborating on the DBT, the Chief Minister said that Rs. 12260 crore have been credited into the accounts of the farmers so far within the stipulated time limit of 48 hours. He said with the introduction of DBT by centre, for the first time there were certain hiccups which have been successfully resolved now to the satisfaction of the farmers.
Realizing the gravity of Covid situation across the state, the Chief Minister appealed to the people for strict adherence to the health protocols to ensure their and their families’ safety. In view of spiralling Covid cases in the State, the Government has taken a conscious decision to put the celebrations of 400th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji on hold and appealed to the people to celebrate this auspicious occasion by praying for “Sarbat da Bhala” from their homes so as to avoid large gatherings.