In the wake of allegations of involvement in bribery case

With elections to the State Assembly just eight months away, the ruling alliance reached a typical situation when all the five Bharatiya Janata Party Ministers, two Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and the Deputy Speaker resigned from their respective positions late on Thursday evening.

While no official announcement was made till the filing of the report, sources said that following directions from the party's central leadership which has ostensibly launched an ‘operation clean-up' in the State, the resignations were handed over to senior leader Shanta Kumar, who is in charge of the BJP affairs in Punjab. Accompanied by senior leaders of the party State unit, Mr Kumar handed over the resignations to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who in turn forwarded the letters to Governor Shivraj Patil for acceptance.

Those who put in their papers include the Minister for Local government, Industries and Commerce Manoranjan Kalia, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Medical Education and Research, Forests and Wildlife and Labour Tikshan Sud, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Minister for Transport Master Mohan Lal and Minister for Technical Education, Industrial Training and Social Security Chaudhary Swarna Ram. While Satpal Gosain has resigned as Deputy Speaker, Arunesh Shakir and Sukhpal Singh Nannu have put in their papers as Chief Parliamentary Secretaries.

Sources said that Mr. Badal appreciated the “high moral” ground adopted by the BJP leadership in the aftermath of the recent bribery scandal over a controversial land deal in which one CPS, Raj Kumar Khurana, was arrested and two Ministers including Mr. Kalia and Ch. Swarna Ram were questioned by the CBI.

The sources said that there was no immediate threat to the stability of the State government as the BJP was not terminating its alliance with the Akali Dal.