Opposition in Punjab seeks arrest of AAP MLA after vigilance bureau nabs his 'aide'

AAP MLA Amit Rattan Kotfatta has denied having any association with Rashim Garg, who was arrested on Thursday on bribery charges

February 18, 2023 09:08 am | Updated 09:08 am IST - Chandigarh

Punjab Congress Chief Pratap Singh Bajwa

Punjab Congress Chief Pratap Singh Bajwa | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Opposition parties in Punjab on February 17 demanded the arrest of AAP MLA Amit Rattan Kotfatta, a day after the arrest of his alleged close aide by the Punjab vigilance bureau in a bribery case.

Rashim Garg was arrested on Thursday following a complaint lodged by the husband of a Ghuda village head in Bathinda who alleged that the accused was demanding a bribe of ₹5 lakh from in lieu of releasing a government grant of ₹25 lakh.

Also Read | AAP should not run Punjab from Delhi by ‘remote control’: Rahul Gandhi 

Mr. Garg was caught red-handed with ₹4 lakh in cash by a team of the vigilance bureau in Bathinda. He was sent to the vigilance remand for two days by a court in Bathinda on Friday.

Amit Rattan Kotfatta, legislator from Bathinda Rural seat, has, however, denied having any association with Mr. Garg. He accused the opposition parties of trying to defame the Aam Aadmi Party government.

AAP government a ‘beneficiary’ of corrupt deeds: Sukhbir Badal

Addressing the media here, Punjab Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa demanded the arrest of the AAP MLA and targeted the Bhagwant Mann government, alleging the “fake promise of corruption-free government has completely busted now".

“As the main opposition party, we demand his arrest,” said Mr. Bajwa, who is the leader of the opposition in Punjab.

Mr. Bajwa said if the Chief Minister did not ensure the arrest of the AAP MLA, the opposition will leave no stone unturned to get him behind the bars.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal too slammed the Chief Minister for not acting against his party MLA.

He alleged that the AAP government was shielding the legislator because it was also a beneficiary of his “ill-gotten” wealth.

He further alleged that an attempt was made to save Mr. Rattan by putting all the blame on Mr. Garg.

Mr. Badal claimed that Mr. Rattan was earlier expelled for his “corrupt deeds” when he was in the SAD. However, he was later picked up by the AAP and was given a ticket in the 2022 Punjab assembly polls.

Punjab BJP general secretary Jiwan Gupta also demanded the arrest of the AAP legislator and accused the state government of saving him.

Reacting to opposition allegations, AAP Punjab chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said the Mann government has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption.

No officer or leader, if found guilty of malpractices, will be spared, he said in a statement here.

Mr. Kang said the Mann government has thrown out its own party leaders who were found indulging in corruption.

Whether a minister or an MLA, the corrupt will not be spared at any cost, he said.

Lashing out at the opposition for raising fingers at the working of the AAP government, Kang said the Congress, the SAD and the BJP, had allegedly “patronised corruption and mafia” when they were in power.

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