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Akali-BSP protest over ‘vaccine scam’ in Punjab

Police personnel try to stop SAD & BSP workers during their protest demanding arrest of Health Minister Balbir Singh.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Punjab police on Tuesday resorted to the use of water cannons to disperse Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers and leaders as they marched to gherao the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh at Siswan in Punjab’s Mohali over an alleged “vaccine scam”.

The protesters were demanding the arrest of Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu. Police detained the protesters, including SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. They were later released.

Mr. Badal said it was not just the Health Department, corruption was rampant across all Ministries under the ruling Congress government. “All Congress Ministers who have indulged in corruption will be taken to task and booked as per law once the SAD-BSP alliance is voted to power in 2022,” said Mr. Badal, accusing Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of shielding corrupt Ministers.

Mr. Badal alleged there have been “a number of scams in the current government”. He said they included the “drug deaddiction tablet scam, the PPE kit scam, the vaccine scam and the Fateh kit scam”, apart from the “Scheduled Caste scholarship scam and seed scam”.

“Not only this, patronage is also being extended to the sand and liquor mafia, which had looted the State with several crores of rupees,” he alleged.

“In their latest vaccine scam, the Congress government sold COVID-19 vaccines at a hefty profit to private institutions,” Mr. Badal said.

Rejecting and terming the Opposition’s allegations on supply of vaccines to some private hospitals and procurement of Fateh kits as “politically motivated”, Capt. Singh said there was no question of the State government making profits amid the pandemic.

Accusing the Akalis and the Aam Aadmi Party of spreading misinformation to further their political ambitions and weakening the State’s war against COVID-19 by raising non-issues, the Chief Minister charged the two parties with “motivated hue and cry” to push their electoral agendas with an eye on the 2022 Assembly elections.

Asserting that the State government had not indulged in any wrongdoing, the Chief Minister said quick and unusual decisions had to be taken in an emergency war-like situation. All protocols were strictly followed and emergency rules were invoked to meet the crisis [of the pandemic], he added. All decisions were taken in the interests of the people of the State and all due procedures followed, he said, terming media reports on the alleged scams as nothing but sensationalism.

Taking note of the large-scale gatherings being organised by the SAD against the State government in violation of COVID-19 safety protocols and the curbs in place, the CM said, “I their desperation for power, Sukhbir Singh Badal and his party colleagues are endangering the lives of the people through such gatherings.”

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 9:20:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/akali-bsp-protest-over-vaccine-scam-in-punjab/article34823092.ece

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