Chandigarh, Jun 29 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday said each penny plundered from the people of the state will be recovered from the “nexus of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats”.
Mann further said his government will soon fulfill the “guarantee” of giving Rs 1,000 each to the women of the state, which was promised ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls.
Slamming the opposition for raising questions over the first budget presented by his government, Mann said the state government is committed to fulfilling its poll promises and would also augment resources and reduce the debt burden on the state.
Winding up the debate in the Assembly on the budget presented by Finance Minister Harpal Cheema, the chief minister said any person who looted public money will have to pay for it and his government will leave no stone unturned to put them behind the bars.
“Each penny looted from the people of the state will be recovered,” Mann said while hitting out at the opposition that had accused his government of being neck deep in corruption.
“I vow on the floor of this August House that my government will never forgive corrupt politicians for their sins against Punjab and Punjabis even if they join any big or small political party,” he added.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said all the benami properties and the “corrupt nexus” behind those will be exposed before people.
He said politicians who have not even been named by government agencies for corruption are running from pillar to post seeking refuge, which reflects the fear in their minds about their sins.
Mann assured the House that no guilty person will be spared and strict action will be taken against them even if they join any other political party, in an apparent reference to some Congress leaders recently joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A verbal duel took place between the chief minister and Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, with Mann accusing the lawmaker of interrupting him with his “running commentary”.
Hailing the “pro-people” budget presented by the finance minister, the chief minister said the opposition has been caught in a peculiar situation as it has been jostling hard to find any shortcoming in such a “progressive” budget.
He added that for the first time, the core areas of education and health have been accorded top priority in the state budget.
Mann accused the previous governments of jeopardising the education and health sectors by giving space to private players for expanding their business.
However, he said this trend will be reversed by his government in the coming years through the strengthening of the infrastructure in both the sectors.
On the AAP’s poll promise of giving Rs 1,000 to women, Mann said it will be implemented soon.
He said his government is in the process of resource mobilization and once it is completed, this promise will be honored.
“When we raise resources, be it in two months or four months, our next step will be to give Rs 1,000 each to the women of the state,” he said.
Lambasting the opposition members for their “slanderous” propaganda on the choice of the Rajya Sabha members from Punjab by the AAP, Mann reminded them that none of the candidates was rejected by the people.
He said this was contrary to the earlier practice when those defeated in polls were sent to the Upper House of Parliament as “political refugees”.
Mann said those questioning the AAP’s choice of Rajya Sabha candidates should remember that former prime minister Manmohan Singh was a Rajya Sabha member from Assam and then from Rajasthan, despite the fact that he was from Punjab.
He said this budget is a roadmap for a progressive and vibrant Punjab as the people of the state have ousted the political parties that used to play musical chairs to loot them every five years.
The state government will check pilferage of public money and utilize the funds for the welfare of people, he said.
Listing several e-governance initiatives taken by his government, the chief minister said from the next session, the Assembly will also get a new look.
He said from the next session, touchscreens will be installed in the Assembly.