M A I N   N E W S

42 SAD, BJP MLAs suspended
Ruckus in Punjab Assembly over City Centre scam
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
An eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on the floor of the Punjab Assembly over the Ludhiana City Centre scam today rocked the House.

Sitting just opposite each other, both leaders yelled at each other. Protocol and decorum of the House was ignored.

At one point of time, the situation reached such a flash point that the Akali and the BJP MLAs raised slogans and rushed towards the Chief Minister infront of his seat. Responding to the situation, the Congress Ministers and MLAs shielded the Chief Minister.

The Opposition MLAs repeatedly disrupted the proceedings of the House and consequently the speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, had to adjourn the House twice. He finally suspended all 42 SAD and BJP MLAs for the remaining period of the current session.

However, the suspended MLAs did not leave the House till it was adjourned for the day and continued to raise slogans against the Chief Minister, the Speaker and the Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. Meanwhile, the Treasury Benches quickly disposed the Legislative Business by passing as many as 11 Bills in just little half an hour.

Later outside the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, alleged that Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who remained present in the Speaker's gallery till the conclusion of today's sitting of the House, had been giving directions through gestures from the gallery to the Akali MLAs.

The tempers in the House began flaring up immediately after question hour when Mr Badal got up to know the fate of the adjournment motion moved by his party for a special discussion in the House on the issue of the scam.

Mr Badal remarked that Capt Amarinder Singh had pocketed several hundred crore from this scam. It led to a verbal duel between the two. The Akali MLAs started raising slogans. Later, the Speaker announced that he had admitted the adjournment motion and asked Mr Badal to speak on it.

Mincing no words and making the Capt Amarinder Singh and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh a direct target of his “attack”, Mr Badal, said that the Chief Minister had pocketed the money earned from the Ludhiana City Centre deals. He further alleged that the Chairman of the Improvement Trust had been made a scape goat.

The Opposition demanded a CBI inquiry, Mr Badal said. He said the conditions laid in the tender and later in the agreement were changed from time to time to make it suitable for Today Homes which was allocated the project.

He said the company had a dubious past and was involved in disputes elsewhere also. No special purpose vehicle was set up which was to be set as a part of this joint venture project floated by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and the private company. All rights with regard to the sale of property were also given through the power of attorney to the company. All this was done inspite of the strong opposition from the Principal Secretary, Local Bodies.

He said all terms and conditions were changed at the behest of the Chief Minister. He said the over all scandal involved a loss of Rs 2,100 crore to the state exchequer and by now already loss of Rs 630 crore had been suffered by the government treasury. Mr Badal said the government pressurised leading companies to withdraw case from the Punjab and Haryana High Court against Today Homes.

However, in his reply, the Chief Minister said the government had nothing to do with this project and it had not invested a single penny in it. The agreement was signed between the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and the private company.

Rejecting a CBI probe in the scam, he said inquiry would be conducted by the Vigilance Bureau which had been asked to give report in a month. He said as irregularities had been brought into the government's notice, it had appointed its own officers, Mr S.R. Kler as the administrator of the Trust to set things right and remove all irregularities.

He said if any financial bungling and changing hands of black money was involved in the project, it would be probed by the Vigilance Bureau and the Income Tax Department concerned.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh said the Trust authorities did not implement the orders sent by his department and because of this reason nominated Chairman and members of the Trust had been removed and an administrator had been appointed to set the house in order.

During the debate on adjournment motion, a hot exchange of words was also seen between the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla and the Akali MLAs.



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