Bhagwant Mann sacks his Corrupt minister

Mann is learnt to have then confronted the minister with the recording and asked if the voice on the tape was his. Singla reportedly replied in the affirmative and was sacked.

Published: 25th May 2022 09:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th May 2022 09:16 AM   |  A+A-

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  Giving a dramatic push to probity in public life, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday sacked his health minister Dr Vijay Singla and got him arrested for seeking cut money for awarding government contracts and clearing payments.

Singla was later produced before a local court, which remanded him in three-day police custody. For his part, Singla said, “It is conspiracy to defame the AAP and Bhagwant Mann government.” Both Singla and his Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Pardeep Kumar were booked by the police under the Prevention of Corruption Act based on a complaint from Rajinder Singh, Superintending Engineer in the Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

The FIR said Singla’s OSD Kumar had demanded that the officer fetch 2% commission for a construction contract worth Rs 41 crore the minister had already cleared and for a separate payment of Rs 17 crore made to contractors in March. Since the total amount involved was Rs 58 crore, 2% works out to Rs 1.16 crore.

When Rajinder Singh brought the harassment to Mann’s notice, he was asked to gather proof. The officer then taped a meeting he had with Singla and Kumar, where they reiterated their demand for bribe and said the cut money should be paid to his nephew. The officer handed over the explosive tape to the Chief Minister’s Office.

Mann is learnt to have then confronted the minister with the recording and asked if the voice on the tape was his. Singla reportedly replied in the affirmative and was sacked. He is a first-time MLA and minister, as are most ministers in the Punjab ministry.

Mann put out a video message making the announcement. “We found substantial proof of his corruption. I do not care if the opposition wants to use this to hit out at us,” he nonchalently claimed. Mann also sought to take the high moral ground saying this is the second time in the country’s history that a minister has been sacked by his own party for graft. The first one, he added, was in 2015 when AAP founder and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal chucked his own food supplies minister Asim Ahmed Khan on charges of corruption and handed him over to the CBI for questioning.

Kejriwal, of course, was suitably impressed. “Your action has brought tears to my eyes,’’ he told Mann. But the Opposition mocked Kejriwal for claiming earlier that corruption had been completely eradicated in Punjab within just 10 days of the Mann government in the saddle.

Whistleblower’s dramatic complaint

About a month ago, Rajinder Singh, Superintending Engineer in Punjab Health Systems Corporation, was called by Pardeep Kumar, OSD to Singla (pic), to room number 203 of Punjab Bhavan

Singla was in a hurry to leave, but told the officer to fully trust Kumar. “Whatever Kumar says is what I intend to say,” he assured and left

Kumar mentioned allotments of construction works worth L41 crore and a separate Rs 17 crore already paid to contractors in March

2% of the total Rs 58 crore or Rs 1.16 crore should be paid as bribe, they said

The officer refused and requested that he be sent back to his parent department. He is due to retire on November 30


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