M A I N   N E W S

May is holiday, travel time for legislators
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Come May and top political leaders of Punjab will be out, travelling.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, was the first one to embark on a trip overseas in the new financial year. She left for North America even before the Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha concluded early this month.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will follow her to North America where he intends to attend the Made-in-Punjab Show to be held in Toronto, Canada, from May 18 to 22. Besides visiting Ontario, the Punjab Chief Minister will also visit other provinces, including British Columbia, and interact with Punjabi NRIs there.

Capt Amarinder Singh will also join the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan on a brief tour of China in the last week of May.

Besides the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, a delegation of 50 Punjab legislators will visit Pakistan from May 21. Another group of 40 legislators of the state will visit Europe in June.

The Leader of the Opposition and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Whip of the SAD Legislature Party, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, and a former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, have reportedly politely turned down invitations to join the visiting delegations.

The legislatorsí delegation to Pakistan will be led by the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, and will include the Deputy Speaker, Mr Darbari Lal. Joining the bandwagon of travelling legislators will be leaders from all political parties represented in the state Assembly besides a few Independents.

The visit to Pakistan is in response to a similar visit by members of Pakistanís Punjab Legislative Assembly late last year.

The visiting Punjab MLAs will also call on the President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, and the Prime Minister, Mr Shauqat Aziz, besides the Chief Minister, Mr Parvaiz Elahi, and members of the Punjab Assembly in Lahore.

Interestingly, at one stage, Mrs Bhattal had opposed foreign jaunts by legislators on the plea that the fiscal health of the state was not sound enough for such trips. She had written a letter to the Chief Minister in support of her argument some weeks ago.

Earlier, trips by groups of legislators were planned for Australia, Europe and Pakistan.


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