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Punjab Minister Vijay Singla Arrested After Being Sacked on Corruption Charges

The Punjab CMO said that concrete evidence has been found against Singla.

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Video Producer & Editor: Eshwar

Soon after being sacked, former Punjab Health Minister Vijay Singla was arrested on corruption charges on Tuesday, 24 May.

Earlier during the day, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann sacked Singla following complaints of corruption against him. Singla had allegedly demanded a 1 percent commission from officials for contracts.

The Punjab CMO said that concrete evidence was found against Singla.

"It had come to my notice that one of my own cabinet ministers was asking for 1 percent commission in tender-related matters. I took the matter seriously. This matter came directly to me. The media has no clue about it, neither does the Opposition," Mann said in a video address.

"If I wanted, I could have brushed the matter under the carpet. However, by doing so, I would have broken the hearts of crores of Punjabis who trusted me. I would have betrayed my party's ideology and hence I am taking action. The minister is Dr Vijay Singla who was the health minister in my cabinet. When I confronted him and showed him the proofs, he confessed to it as well," Mann added.

"I just want to tell everybody that the system has changed now. Whether you are an officer or an Opposition leader or even a part of the government, corruption of even a rupee would not be tolerated," the CM said.

Mann drew parallels to a similar move by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in 2015 when he sacked the then food supply minister. He further said that the police would be directed to take action against Singla in the matter.

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He further said: "I want to tell those who are corrupt, those who are looting the poor, those who are looting the country, you can collect as much money, diamonds, jewels as you want. But remember, there are no pockets in a shroud. Everything will remain here."

Singla was elected as an MLA from the Mansa constituency in the 2022 Punjab Legislative Assembly elections.

In March, he was assigned the portfolios of Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education & Research.

"Many people have the belief that the nexus of corruption is too big, it can't be broken, corruption will continue. This is not true at all. If intentions are honest, everything can happen. If there are sons of India like Arvind Kejriwal, who formed the party out of an anti-corruption movement, and with them thousands of patriotic soldiers like me, then this country can change... It is Arvind Kejriwal's dream to make a corruption-free India."
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann

Staunch Stance Against Corruption

The action comes after the newly formed AAP government took a staunch stand against corruption in the state, with Mann also having launched an anti-corruption helpline on 17 March. The CM had said that the helpline would be his "personal WhatsApp number."

"If anyone asks you for a bribe, please make a video or audio record of it and send it to me. We will take strict action against the corrupt. Corruption in Punjab will not be tolerated anymore," the chief minister had tweeted.

Proud of CM Mann: Kejriwal

AAP Convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter and said that he was proud of Mann and his actions.

Kejriwal also said that if CM Mann wanted, he could have stifled the matter; instead, he took action against the minister on his own.

Speaking on an incident in 2015 when he had sacked the food minister in his cabinet, Kejriwal said, "When the minister's corruption charges came forth, no one knew. I took action on my own. AAP is a hardcore sincere party; we don't spare anyone."

Kejriwal also alleged that all parties had a "setting" among themselves until now that they would not take action against each other's leaders, let alone their own ministers. "It's the first time a party has taken action against its own ministers."

Hitting out at Opposition parties in Punjab, the Delhi CM said that such parties had been levelling allegations that the Punjab government's ministers were involved in corruption, but the truth is that "they start looting from the first day itself." He also added that corruption was done by "traitors" and that AAP would never accept it.

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Meanwhile, AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha commended the move and tweeted: "Aam Aadmi Party is the only party that has the integrity, courage & uprightness to take action against their own on grounds of corruption. We saw it in Delhi, now we are witnessing it in Punjab."

Singla, a dentist who runs a clinic in the city, joined the Aam Aadmi Party seven years ago, in 2015. During the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls, he defeated Congress candidate and popular singer Shubhdeep Singh, better known Sidhu Moosewala by a margin of 63,323 votes.

Haryana CM Khattar Hits Out at AAP

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar hit out at AAP. "The kind of party it is, nothing can be said. A lot of their (AAP) MLAs are in jail; many are being removed under charges of corruption," the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was quoted as saying by ANI.

He further added, "We have a stand-up policy to make people independent. They have a sit-down policy, (which involves) giving freebies."

(With inputs from ANI.)

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