M A I N   N E W S

Post-graft taint, bid to clean up
BJP pulls out ministers from Punjab Cabinet
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
The coalition partner of the Akali Dal, the BJP, has decided to withdraw its ministers from the Punjab Cabinet. This is being done as part of “operation cleanup” after two of its ministers and a CPSs were named in a bribery scam by the CBI.

This decision taken by the party’s core group in Delhi yesterday was conveyed to the party president and the five ministers and two CPSs by senior party leaders and incharge of Punjab affairs Shanta Kumar here.

After seeking the resignations of four of the five ministers and two CPSs tonight, Shanta Kumar met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and handed him over their resignation letters to be forwarded to Governor Shivraj Patil. The Governor is away to Jaipur.

Those who have resigned are Local Government Minister Manoranjan Kalia, Social Welfare and Technical Education Minister Swarna Ram, Health and Family Welfare Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla and Forest Minister Tikshan Sud. The two CPSs who have quit are Sukhpal Singh Nannu and Arunesh Shakir. Transport Minister Master Mohan Lal is expected to fax his resignation later.

A senior BJP leader, who did not wish to come on record, clarified that the party was not parting ways with the SAD, but would only remain out of governance. He said the party high command would suggest fresh names for inclusion in the Cabinet. The swearing-in of new ministers would take place on Sunday, a government communication said.

Shanta Kumar said he had not asked for the resignation of the Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain as the party high command had not taken a decision in this regard. The decision to seek the resignations is being viewed as a face-saving measure by the BJP high command after CPS Raj Khurana (he has already quit the post) was arrested by the CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe in a case pertaining to illegal land sale. Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia and Social Welfare Minister Swarna Ram have also been questioned by the CBI in the case.





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