Punjab CM's anti
In a significant move of power and perception, Punjab’s recently-elected Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann took high-profile action against corruption in the state. CM Mann on Tuesday sacked the state Health Minister Vijay Singla asserting that his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will run with a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption.
The move comes barely two months after AAP formed its maiden government in Punjab by sweeping the bygone state Assembly Elections 2022. The sacking of the minister was announced by Mann himself via a video message on social media.
“AAP is an honest party. Our government can’t tolerate corruption of even Re 1,” Mann said in the message, adding that a corruption case has recently come to his notice and with media not aware, it could have easily been suppressed.
“If I would have done that, I would have betrayed lakhs who had trusted us. So I am taking strict action against the minister,” the 2-month old CM said. He also directed Punjab police to register a case against Singla, who was later arrested on the corruption charges.
आम आदमी पार्टी का जन्म ईमानदार सिस्टम कायम करने के लिए हुआ है...@ArvindKejriwal जी ने हमेशा कहा है कि भ्रष्टाचार को बर्दाश्त नहीं करेंगे चाहे कोई अपना हो या बेगाना— Bhagwant Mann (@BhagwantMann) May 24, 2022
स्वास्थ्य मंत्री के खिलाफ भ्रष्टाचार के सबूत मिलते ही तुरंत बर्खास्त किया...साथ ही FIR के आदेश दिए pic.twitter.com/0g9nqGteHb
Who is Punjab’s sacked health minister Vijay Singla?
52-year-old Dental Surgeon Vijay Singla was appointed in CM Bhagwant Mann’s cabinet in March and given two portfolios -- Health and Family welfare and Medical education and Research. Singla’s inclusion in the Punjab cabinet reportedly came as a surprise to some as he was unexpectedly chosen over some more serious contenders.
Singla is the MLA in Punjab Assembly from Mansa seat, having defeated popular singer and Congress candidate Sidhu Moosewala by a margin of over 60,000 votes.
As per his nomination filing affidavit, Singla owns assets to the tune of Rs 6.48 crore with liabilities of Rs 27 lakh. He pursued his medical education from the Punjabi University in Patiala and used to practice dentistry before getting involved in politics. Singla’s wife is reportedly a practitioner of Ayurveda.
In the two months that he held the ministerial portfolio, Singla had taken action against adulterated milk and milk products in April. Raids were conducted in connection to the clampdown in cities like Patiala, Ludhiana, Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib. Singla had also cautioned private de-addiction centres against misuse of drugs in a move towards tackling Punjab’s drug problem.
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Corruption charges against him
In his video message, CM Mann revealed that the former minister was involved in wrongdoings in his department and had admitted to the accusations. He was later arrested on the corruption charges of demanding one percent commission in his department’s tenders and purchases.
“A case was brought to my notice in which one minister in my government was demanding one per cent commission from each tender or purchase of his department," Mann had said.
The move mirrors action by AAP patriarch and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal back in 2015 when he sacked the food and supplies minister and also forwarded the case to CBI, as CM Mann reminded in his message.
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