Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, May 24
In a dramatic turn of events, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann today sacked Health Minister Dr Vijay Singla over alleged corruption charges. The latter was arrested shortly afterwards. The action came just two months after the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in the state, with CM Mann asserting his government has zero tolerance towards corruption.
Dramatic turn of events
April Superintending Engineer Rajinder Singh summoned by Minister Vijay Singla and his OSD, demanding Rs 1.16 crore commission
May 8, 10, 12 & 13 WhatsApp calls exchanged between SE & accused
May 23 SE makes audio recording at meeting where he is allegedly asked to pay up Rs 10 lakh & 1% commission on future tenders
May 24 (8 am): Singla summoned by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and confronted with audio clip; minister Singla admits it is his voice
11 am: FIR filed against duo | 2.05 pm: Vijay Singla, Pradeep arrested
6.35 pm: Both accused sent to three-day police custody
Mohalla clinics may be delayed
- Singla’s ouster likely to cast shadow over AAP’s schemes, including mohalla clinics
Singla’s OSD and nephew Pradeep Kumar has also been arrested. A case under Sections 7 and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered on the complaint of Rajinder Singh, Superintending Engineer, Punjab Health Systems Corporation. Both were produced before a Mohali court, which remanded them in police custody for three days.
Rajinder Singh alleged Singla demanded 1 per cent commission in tenders and purchases of his department. A purported recording of their conversation reached the CM. Inquiries were made into the allegation as well as other “dealings” of Singla in which he had sought “shukrana”, a term used for commission. Singla is learnt to have “admitted to the wrongdoings” when confronted by the CM with the recording.
CM Mann said, “We have substantial proof. We don't care if the Opposition parties want to use this against us, but we won't tolerate corruption. Our party convener had himself removed a minister in Delhi in 2015 over bribery." Delhi CM ArvindKejriwal congratulated CM Mann for “stemming corruption in the bud”.
Singla (52), a dental surgeon, was elected to the Assembly from Mansa, defeating singer and Congress candidate Sidhu Moosewala. Talking to the media outside the court, Singla said it was a conspiracy and a bid to defame the party. With his ouster, the Health Department will come under the CM, who will now have 28 portfolios. The minister’s removal was approved by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, following which the government issued a notification in this regard.
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