The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was on Friday at the centre of the Opposition’s criticism on the issue of appointing two retired officers, reportedly close to the Party’s national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, as the Chairman and member of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in Punjab.
The Congress Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) hit out at the AAP, accusing it of running the Punjab government through a ‘proxy’ from ‘Delhi Darbar’ or ‘high command’ and blaming Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for surrendering Punjab’s interest.
The Punjab government on December 22 appointed former additional Chief Secretary of Delhi Satya Gopal as the Chairman of RERA and retired IRS officer Rakesh Goyal as a member of RERA.
Punjab’s Leader of the Opposition, Partap Singh Bajwa said that both Mr. Gopal and Mr. Goyal were close confidants of the AAP supremo. “I have serious doubts that the senior leadership of the AAP sitting in Delhi has an eye on the profitable businesses of Punjab so that they could amass the party funds, which is perhaps required for the party expansion in other States…This instance indicates that the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is nothing more than a puppet, who dances to the tune of his bosses sitting in Delhi. Why didn’t the Punjab CM intervene and appoint the Punjab-based bureaucrats for these positions? As many as 75 senior IAS and IPS officers had applied for the same and the interview went on for three days, which was merely an eyewash,” said Mr. Bajwa.
At a press conference, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said it was also shocking that the Chief Minister had completely sublet governance to the AAP high command. “Earlier the AAP high command masterminded the ₹500 crore excise scam by handing over the entire liquor trade in Punjab to its favourites from Delhi. Now it is taking control of the real estate in Punjab and has appointed Arvind Kejriwal’s blue-eyed boy— Satya Gopal as the Chairman of RERA, Punjab. This shows the extent to which Mr. Kejriwal has taken control of Punjab and its resources,” he said.
Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira lashed out at Mr. Mann over the RERA appointments and asked him to formally hand over his authority to the Delhi leadership. Accusing Mr. Mann of compromising with the interests of Punjab and ‘Punjabis’, Mr. Khira said “..Just nine months into power, they (AAP) have already intensified the process to cleanse the Punjab government of all the ‘Punjabis’ from important positions while the Chief Minister Mann remains obligingly obedient to his Delhi masters without realising how much damage he is inflicting on the self-respecting Punjabi psyche, which can have dangerous repercussions.”
Earlier, the Punjab government appointed Rajya Sabha member Raghav Chadha as the chairman of the advisory committee in Punjab, which created a political furor in the State. After his appointment, Mr. Chadha had been meeting officials of the Punjab government. In September, when he met the newly-appointed chairpersons of the Punjab government boards and corporations, the Congress hit out at the AAP, asking Mr. Mann to define and explain the role of Mr. Chadha in Punjab.
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