CHANDIGARH: The dinner diplomacy by the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to placate two dozen party MLAs and more than half a dozen cabinet ministers who have aired their resentment over the Congress government’s handling of Bargari sacrilege issue, growing drug menace, transport and cable mafia did not go well.
Sources said that during the dinner party, over 12 MLAs and more than six of his cabinet colleagues told the CM the public perception that their government is in collusion with the Badal family is increasing and this is hurting both the party and the government.
The lawmakers reportedly told the CM that he must look into the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib (holy book of Sikhs) as the officers are giving different versions on the case and the government itself is not clear on it.
It is learnt that three cabinet ministers (cooperation and jail Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra and sports and youth minister Gurmeet Singh Sodhi) echoed their resentment alleging that the present government set-up is in collusion with Badal family. Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal bemoaned that he was against a fleet of bullet-proof land cruisers to the family members of Prakash Singh Badal on government expense but his objection was overruled.
There was a heated exchange of words between transport minister Razia Sultana and Jalandhar North MLA Avtar Henry over the new transport policy. At one time, Razia just stopped short of reportedly hitting Henry before both left the venue.
A few legislators alleged that the National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is trying to raise the bogey of Referendum 2020 to take control of Punjab like Jammu and Kashmir. "This trend is worrysome and we needs to be cautious," said MLA Kuljit Nagra.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Amritsar (East) MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu and Gidderbaha MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring were among the MLAs who skipped the dinner party.