Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is yet again in the firing line of the Opposition parties, who have accused him of adopting a ‘self-contradicting stand’ surrounding the ‘VIP culture’.
Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Congress Partap Singh Bajwa said that according to information received under the Right To Information Act, there has been a rise in the convoy of vehicles of Mr. Mann since June this year. As many as 42 vehicles are attached to his convoy, which is more than former Chief Ministers including Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh and Charanjit Singh Channi.
In a statement based on the information, Mr. Bajwa said that 42 vehicles have been provided to the convoy of the Punjab Chief Minister by the State Transport Corporation.
“In the tenure of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from March 31, 2007, to March 30, 2012, the number of cars provided to the Chief Minister by the State Transport Corporation was 33. In his second consecutive term from March 31, 2012, to March 30, 2017, Mr. Badal had the same number of cars in his cavalcade. Similarly, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had 33 vehicles in his cavalcade till the end of his term on September 19, 2021. From September 20, 2021, to March 2022, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had 39 cars in his convoy,” said Mr. Bajwa.
Mr. Bajwa said, “There has been a self-contradiction between what Mr. Mann used to preach before becoming the Chief Minister and what he practicing now. Would Mr. Mann mind letting the people of Punjab know how this big convoy of vehicles serves the purpose? Why does he spend taxpayers’ money so recklessly? How can he afford to have such a huge cavalcade now?”
BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa blamed Mr. Mann for squandering public money to beef up his own security. “The revelation through RTI is shocking that the number of vehicles in CM’s cavalcade remained 33 during both the CM’s tenure — Prakash Singh Badal and Capt. Amarinder Singh whereas numerous cars were added to “AAM CM” Bhagwant Mann’s cavalcade to keep him safe,” he said.
The AAP and the State government were tight-lipped on the issue and were seen passing the buck. Interestingly, when asked for Aam Aadmi Party’s reaction on the issue, Punjab AAP chief spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang suggested approaching the media in-charge of Chief Minister’s Office, while Navneet Wadhwa, the media in-charge of the CMO, suggested State’s Information and Public Relation officials for a reply.
Sonali Giri, Director, IPR, on Thursday told The Hindu that she is not authorised to react on behalf of the Chief Minister’s office.