Even as the crisis in Punjab Congress continues, five Cabinet ministers have expressed stern disapproval to Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s decision of tweaking the rules to provide government jobs to sons of party MLAs. The ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Charanjit Channi, Tript Rajinder Bajwa and Razia Sultana expressed their objection to the decision of the CM during a cabinet meeting held on Friday.
For at least half an hour, a source quoted by Times of India says, the ministers questioned the appointment of the sons of party MLAs and the unusual relaxation allowed to accommodate them. The case pertains to the appointment of sons of legislators Fateh Jung Bajwa and Rakesh Pandey as Inspector and Naib Tehsildar, respectively, on compassionate grounds by altering rules.
However, despite facing stiff resistance from his ministers, Captain Amarinder Singh nevertheless had his way and appointed the sons of the party MLAs to government jobs. The Punjab cabinet gave its approval to appoint Arjun Partap Singh as Inspector (Group B) in Punjab Police, Bhisham Pandey as Naib Tehsildar (Group B) in the revenue department. He had even reportedly asked the disgruntled ministers to move the court if they were unhappy with the appointment. Defending his move, CM Captain Amarinder Singh is believed to have pointed out that jobs were offered to deserving sportsmen and ex-servicemen too.
The ministers were against the arbitrary “pick and choose” for political considerations and demanded that the state government formulate a policy for such appointments instead. The ministers contended that such appointments set a wrong precedent. “What kind of message will this send to the youth of the state? The public perception is already against the Congress party. Such appointments only add to the public discontent. It will further dampen the prospects of the party in the upcoming elections,” a minister said.
Ministers unhappy over granting relaxations to accommodate affluent family members of MLAs
Both the MLAs had lost their respective fathers to terrorist attacks. Fateh Bajwa’s father, Satnam Singh Bajwa, was killed in a terrorist attack in Amritsar in 1987. Pandey’s father, Joginderpal Pandey, was also killed by terrorists in Ludhiana in 1987.
The dissenting ministers were particularly opposed to the appointment of Bajwa’s son, Arjun Partap Bajwa. They referred to the content of the FIR filed in 1987 and whether it goes against the proposal. They also highlighted four major relaxations in the case to accommodate the MLA’s son. Questions were also raised about the relaxations being granted after a period of 33 years as the applicants belonged to affluent families and the appointment of the inspector is not from the ‘D’ class of employees.
Shortly after the appointment of his son as Inspector, Fateh Jung Bajwa spoke in the favour of the Punjab Chief Minister. Bajwa is the younger brother of Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa, who has opened a front against the Punjab Congress. On the other hand, Rakesh Pandey has also aligned with the rebel faction and extended his support to them. In political circles, the appointment is seen as a move to woo the leaders and undermine the rebel faction.
Applications for government jobs received after former CM Beant Singh’s son was appointed as DSP in Punjab Police
According to the sources, the applications for the government jobs were received shortly after Punjab Government in 2017 appointed former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s grandson as DSP in the Punjab Police on compassionate grounds by tweaking rules. The Punjab government had then drawn flak for promoting VIP culture in the state and appointing relatives of the ministers and MLAs to plum posting while shunting away the meritorious candidates.