M A I N   N E W S

SAD, BJP MLAs protest outside Assembly
Seek CBI probe into Ludhiana City Centre issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The suspended SAD and BJP MLAs, who comprise the Opposition, today staged a protest outside the Punjab Assembly demanding a CBI probe into the Ludhiana City Centre issue even as the Treasury Benches discussed important matters inside the House.

The MLAs, suspended by Speaker Kewal Krishan on Friday for the rest of the current session for “unruly behaviour”, carried placards and shouted slogans against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for allegedly siphoning off crores of rupees from the city centre deal.

Led by Leader of the Opposition Parkash Singh Badal and senior Akali leaders, the MLAs sat in front of the House and demanded a CBI probe into the alleged real estate scandal. Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, who is facing charges of rape and was released on bail by a court in Chandigarh yesterday, was also among the protesters.

“Several leading newspapers have written about the corruption and irregularities in the real estate scandal,” Mr Badal told reporters referring to the recent media reports.

“The only agenda for the Akalis is to seek a CBI probe into the scandal,” he said, adding that the Chief Minister had himself declared on the floor of the House that if he received any complaint of corruption in his regime, he would not hesitate in ordering a probe.

He said the SAD-BJP combine had sought an audience with Governor S.F. Rodrigues on September 23 to apprise him with the issue and a party delegation would also meet President Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.

Mr Badal said delegations of the Akalis would also hold protests outside the city centre. Capt Kanwaljit Singh would led the protest on September 27.

On the suspension of his party MLAs, Mr Badal said, “ The Speaker had killed democracy”. On the issue of allegations levelled against the SAD for accepting party fund from the ITC, he said, “We never made any demand to the ITC and the company was also into hotel and several other businesses”.

Meanwhile, on the question of revoking the suspension by moving a resolution in this regard, senior Congress leaders opined that this would have served no purpose as Mr Badal as per convention would have got the right to speak first during the debate on development. After speaking his party could have very well walked out, they said.

Senior SAD leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder told reporters, “By not calling the Opposition back into the House, the Congress had shown its shallow behaviour and this was not the norm for a democracy”. He alleged that the MLAs were suspended under game plan to keep them out during crucial issues that were to be discussed today”. He said the party had also disputed an advertisement issued by Today Homes claiming to be clean.

More Assembly reports on pages 5 and 6.



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