Punjab Health Minister Vijay Singla was sacked from the Cabinet of the two-month old Bhagwant Mann government on Tuesday and arrested shortly afterwards on corruption charges.
The Chief Minister said the minister was involved in corruption cases and he had proof of that.
Reiterating his government’s firm commitment to make Punjab a corruption-free state, he said Singla was dismissed for seeking one per cent commission in department headed by him.
“My government is having zero tolerance towards corruption and no one, whosoever affluent he may be, will be allowed to continue such malpractices,” Mann said.
The Chief Minister categorically said he had dismissed Singla from his Cabinet and asked the police to register case against him. He said since the case was only in his knowledge, so he could have easily buried it or ignored it.
However, Mann said after taking oath at sacred soil of Khatkar Kalan, he had vowed to make Punjab corruption-free and this is a historic step towards this cause.
He said people had chosen them for transparent and corruption-free system and he is duty-bound to fulfill the aspirations of every Punjabi.
He said since 75 years of Indian Independence there is no such parallel in the state whereas Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had taken such a bold step in 2015 when he had dismissed his Food and Supply Minister on charges of corruption.
Mann said the message is loud and clear that corrupt practices will not be allowed in the state.
He unequivocally said his predecessors had been shielding the corrupt and then saying that they knew about corruption being done by their ministers. However, Mann said such practices would not be tolerated in Punjab now. He said that Singla has admitted his crime and now the law will take its own course.
Taking a dig at the opposition, the Chief Minister said that they will fire political salvos regarding corruption on his government. But, he has taken action against the corrupt whereas the Opposition had always sheltered and promoted the corrupt leaders.
He said the intention and vision of his government is clear that corrupt practices will not be allowed and anyone indulging in this will have to face serious repercussions.
Appreciating his government for the prompt action, AAP national convener Kejriwal tweeted: “Proud of you Bhagwant. Ur action has brought tears to my eyes. The whole nation today feels proud of AAP.”
First-time legislator Singla, 52, a dentist by profession, won from Mansa. He defeated popular Punjabi singer and Congress candidate Shubhdeep Singh, also called Sidhu Moosewala, by a margin of 63,323 votes, the highest winning margin in the election.
Singla did Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Punjabi University, Patiala.
As per the affidavit submitted by him at the time of filing his nomination, Singla has Rs 6.48 crore of assets and Rs 27 lakh as liabilities. His wife is an Ayurveda practitioner.