Bhagwant Mann criticises opposition over “remote-controlled” comment


Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday rebutted the opposition’s charge that his government was being “remote-controlled” by Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal, saying that it was his decision to send the officials to the national capital to meet the Delhi CM “for training”. Breaking his silence on the controversy at a press conference in Jalandhar on the sidelines of a function to celebrate BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, Mann said: “I’ve sent the officials earlier as well. They went to Gujarat and Tamil Naidu also for training. If there is a need to send them to Israel for training for the betterment of Punjab, I will do so.”

The row over Kejriwal meeting Punjab officials in the absence of Mann in Delhi on Monday escalated with the opposition accusing him of interfering in the state’s affairs. The Delhi CM had met the Punjab chief secretary and senior officials of the power department and Punjab State Power Corporation Limited in Mann’s absence to discuss the AAP’s pre-poll promise of 300 units of free electricity as demand peaks. Mann met Kejriwal a day later. The meetings evoked sharp response from the opposition Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, which accused the AAP chief of ruling the state via “remote control”.

On the opposition’s charge of him being sidelined, the Punjab CM said: “Where and who is the opposition in Punjab? They had won by only 200-300 votes and there are only 17-18 MLAs. They should not criticise for the sake of criticising. People will give them a befitting reply. I will send my officials to Delhi, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Naidu in the coming days.”

Asked whether the AAP government will reinvestigate the role of former Congress minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in the post-matric scam, Mann said: “You will see Dharamsot approaching the high court or sessions court for VIP facilities in jail.” On the power sector, the chief minister said that the AAP government will make an announcement on April 16 for the people of Punjab.

Soon after Mann’s statement, Punjab Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira tweeted, “This is not only a belated after thought cover up by @BhagwantMann but definitely on instructions from @ArvindKejriwal who felt the opposition heat for summoning Pb officers directly to Delhi. All we want is that our CM shouldn’t be a dummy and remote-controlled.”

In a second tweet, Khaira said: “And this story by @BhagwantMann that these officers were sent to @ArvindKejriwal for training is another cock & bull story and a cheap cover-up attempt! Which rocket science training does Kejriwal give in a couple of hours meeting? It’s better to tell the truth that they were summoned,” said Khaira in the second tweet.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)