Pesticide scam: Opposition demands Badal’s resignation, arrest of Tota Singh
Punjab’s opposition parties are demanding resignation of CM Parkash Singh Badal and arrest of Agriculture minister Tota Singh, alleging that Punjab chief minister and agriculture minister’s offices were also involved in the multi-crore pesticide scam. Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, while demanding resignation of CM and arrest of agriculture minister, said that agriculture director Mangal Singh Sandhu has just been made a scapegoat to save higher ups. In a statement, Mr Bajwa said merely the arrest of Mr Sandhu was not enough as both Mr Badal and Mr Tota Singh were equal culprits. He further said that Rs 33 crore purchase of sub-standard pesticides was just one aspect as the scandal was huge and much wider that lead to the total loss of about Rs 5,000 crore.
Mr Bajwa asked Badal as to why Tota Singh was re-inducted into the cabinet after his resignation in the wake of his conviction by a court on the charge of committing irregularities. He also said that Tota Singh was brought back in the cabinet on the recommendations of a central minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party and CM should divulge the name of that minister now.
After touring the cotton belt of the state, Mr Bajwa said it was surprising that the fields in adjoining Rajasthan villages were not at all affected and that state was having a bumper crop. It was only in areas where spurious fertilizers had been sprayed had been ruined.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party has also demanded the removal of Agriculture Minister Tota Singh. Party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur demanded that action must be taken against all those involved in the scam and said it was unbelievable that minister of the department was ignorant of this scam.
Mr Chhotepur said Parkash Singh Badal was relying on bureaucracy on such a sensitive issue rather than his own cabinet colleague that was reflective of the fact that Tota Singh had lost his confidence.
Political observers of the state are also of this view that scandal of such proportions are unlikely to happen without the knowledge of political leadership in Punjab and it looks like that the efforts are on to put the total blame on bureaucracy to stall the political implications of the scam.
Senior journalist Kanwar Sandhu, while talking on radio show ‘South Asian Pulse’ said that Punjab and Haryana High Court should take notice of the case and it needs to be investigated without any interference from the political leadership.