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Picture (im)perfect
Ministers fight for a ‘photo finish’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Punjab BJP ministers are fighting to put their pictures on ambulances and cycles, much to the discomfort of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. While Health Minister Satpal Gosain wants his colleague Laxmi Kanta Chawla’s picture removed from ambulances received by the state under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Laxmi Kanta wants hers included along with that of the CM on cycles to be distributed to girl students in the state.

Ironically, the Chief Minister, who is caught in a cleft now, started the trend by allowing the Health Department to put up his picture with the slogan ‘raj nahi sewa’ on 90 ambulances received through central funds under the NRHM programme. Laxmi Kanta, the then Health Minister, insisted her picture also be put up on the ambulances and the CM buckled under pressure.

Now that Satpal Gosain has taken over the health portfolio, he has directed that Laxmi Kanta’s photograph should be replaced with his on the ambulances. The CM, to whom the matter has been referred, has asked the Health Department to do away with his as well as Laxmi Kanta’s pictures with health slogans.

However Gosain when questioned on the issue said his picture would appear on the ambulances shortly. “I am the Health Minister and my picture should be put up on the ambulances”, he said.

Meanwhile Laxmi Kanta, who is now looking after the Social Security portfolio has put department officials in a quandary. She has directed them to carry her picture along with that of the CM on the 1.5 lakh cycles to be distributed to girl students of Class XI and XII, starting from August 15 this year.

The department officials had earlier finalised a design under which only the CM’s photograph along with the name of the scheme (Mai Bhago) and the Punjab government logo was to be put on a metal plate fixed to the front basket of the cycle.

Social Security Department Director Gurkirat Singh, when contacted, said the minister had sent an “observation” saying, “My photograph may also be placed on the cycles as I am the Social Security Minister and this department is funding the scheme”. He said this had now been forwarded to the Chief Minister’s office for approval. Sources said the issue has also been taken up in a meeting presided over by the CM’s Principal Secretary D S Guru two days back but no decision has been taken on the matter.

Laxmi Kanta’s desire to be pictured on the cycles, which are aimed at wooing the economically weaker sections, is a SAD poll plank borrowed from Bihar. Nitish Kumar had provided girl students studying in elementary schools with cycles, which had helped the JD (U) in the assembly polls.





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