Jalandhar, March 24
Ahead of the Jalandhar (reserved seat) Lok Sabha bypoll, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are set to hold a big show of strength for the party near Dera Sachkhand Ballan on Saturday.
Re-releasing already sanctioned amount
The AAP government is just re-releasing the same grant (released by the last Congress government). The AAP government first stopped its release and then performed the charade of sanctioning it for the same project to claim all the credit in election time. Vikramjit Chaudhary, Phillaur MLA
The party leaders are claiming that there could be a gathering of nearly 1.5 lakh people at the site. More than 70 buses are learnt to have been deployed to bring in the devotees. Having allocated a grant of Rs 25 crore for setting up Sri Guru Ravidass Research Centre near the dera in the recently announced Punjab Budget, the two CMs are expected to hand over a cheque of this amount to the the dera at the event. The dera has a huge Ravidassia following in the Dalit-dominated seat.
Owing to prediction of an inclement weather, the site for the programme is a covered shed right in front of the dera. The administration has been making elaborate arrangements for parking, traffic and security deployment at the site and around. Thousands of banners have been put up all across the district by the AAP government for publicising the event of doling out the cheque with pictures of Guru Ravidass and the two AAP CMs.
Interestingly on Thursday (yesterday), Leader of Opposition Partap Bajwa, Congress candidate Karamjit Kaur Chaudhary and her son and Phillaur MLA Vikramjit Chaudhary too had paid obeisance at the same dera and met chief Sant Niranjan Dass. The politics over the payment of the cheque remains hot ever since the Vidhan Sabha budget session had started. Vikramjit had taken up the issue saying that the cheque worth the same amount had already been doled out by the previous Congress CM Charanjit Channi on December 31, 2021.
Chaudhary held a press conference this evening alleging that Kartapur MLA Balkar Singh had lied on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha that he got to know that no cheque worth the amount as claimed by the Congress had actually been doled out. “In reality, the AAP government is just re-releasing the same grant. Accompanied by Jalandhar District Congress (Urban) President Rajinder Beri, former Kartarpur MLA Chaudhary Surinder Singh and Nakodar-based leader Dr Navjot Dahiya, he showed government notifications and correspondence about the grant. The AAP government first stopped its release and then performed the charade of sanctioning the same amount for the same project to claim all the credit in election time”, the Phillaur MLA said.
He elaborated, “Only those societies and charitable trusts which had been registered at least three years before were eligible for grant under this programme and the maximum grant-in-aid allowed on a one-time basis was only Rs 10 lakh. Hence, a special sanction was necessary from the Punjab Cabinet of Ministers. On January 5, 2022, the Cabinet gave its approval. However, on March 30, 2022, the newly elected AAP government recalled the grant and ordered that the amount be given back to the government by the next day”.
MLA Balkar Singh however steered clear of the controvesy by refusing to comment on the allegations levelled by Chaudhary. “It is a religious event. We have doled out grant for a great cause. I do not want to say anything beyond this,” he said.
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