Politics News

Punjab: Before Bhagwant Mann Takeover, Security of 122 Former Ministers & MLAs Withdrawn

The Punjab Police has withdrawn the security of 122 former ministers and former MLAs of the state before the new government of the Aam Aadmi Party led by Bhagwant Mann formally takes over.

In what is being seen as a message against VIP culture, under the new regime-elect, those who will no longer have police security cover include former ministers Manpreet Singh Badal and Amrinder Singh Raja Warring of the Congress, both of whom have lost the election this time. While Manpreet had 19 security personnel posted with him, Raja Warring had no less than 21.

After Raja Warring and Manpreet, third on the list in terms of number of security personnel is Pargat Singh, India’s former hockey captain who was sports minister in the outgoing Charanjit Singh Channi-led government. He had 17 security personnel. Pargat has won his seat again. The list also has names of several leaders who have won again, such as the outgoing deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and outgoing minister Rana Gurjit Singh.

Senior Akali leaders Adesh Partap Singh Kairon and Daljit Singh Cheema, both of whom have lost the elections, will also no longer have police security. Manoranjan Kalia and Tikshan Sood of the BJP are also on the list.

The list further includes some who won on an AAP ticket in 2017, but later switched to the Congress, such as Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh. Former Punjab AAP chief Sucha Singh Chhotepur, who unsuccessfully contested on an Akali ticket this time, has also lost Punjab Police cover. Chhotepur’s sacking from the AAP ahead of the 2017 elections on charges of “selling tickets” was seen as first in a series of mistakes that the party made before those polls.

While the list does not have names of top leaders such as former CMs Captain Amarinder Singh and Parkash Singh Badal, or of Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, among those who have lost security is Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur. Like her, there are many on the list who were not MLAs even in the outgoing assembly and had remained members of the Vidhan Sabha in earlier tenures.

While most on the list were swept away by the AAP wave, which gave the Arvind Kejriwal-led party 92 of the 117 seats in the Punjab assembly, some of them may get security again as they have retained their seats.

The orders, dated March 11, have been issued by the additional director general of police (security).

Mann, meanwhile, formally staked claim to form the government in a meeting with governor Banwarilal Purohit. The oath taking is set to take place in Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, on March 16. “We staked claim to form the government and the governor sahib approved it,” Mann said. The 48-year-old was elected the AAP legislature party leader at a meeting of party MLAs in Mohali on Friday.

(With PTI inputs)

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