Chandigarh: Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira has written an open letter to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to review gigantic unproductive expenditure on luxury cars, huge security paraphernalia and unlimited fuel provided to Badals, Majithia, Hindu Shiv Sena leaders, retired police officers and other religious preachers, particularly at a time when the public exchequer stands wrecked.
I would like to draw your attention towards sensational reports published in a national newspaper recently highlighting the issue of gigantic unproductive expenditure, being incurred in shape of costly luxurious vehicles, huge security paraphernalia and unlimited fuel provided to the above stated leaders, heads of political outfits, retired police officers and religious preachers by the government, at a time when the public exchequer is financially wrecked and under a colossal burden of Rs. 2.5 lac crores. I am shocked to learn how generous your government is towards the political leaders, who do not face threat to their lives and yet the state government is spending unlimited amount of money.
As per reports, while the expenditure on fuel and salaries of the drivers alone cost the state Rs. 12 crore annually, the total estimated cost of providing the said facility is costing public exchequer more than Rs. 100 crore every year.
According to the report, former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has nine cars in his security including costly SUVs like Toyota Land Cruisers and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal has seven cars fleet in his security, while Bikram Singh Majithia has four cars. They have no limit on the consumption of petrol and diesel. Parkash Singh Badal is not very mobile after his party’s defeat in 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections.
Both senior and junior Badals do not need such a huge security setup to look after them, as Punjab has been completely peaceful after the end of militancy in the early 90’s. It is pertinent to mention here, Badals are now one of the richest businessmen of Punjab and they can easily afford to have paid security. Otherwise the state government can scale down their security. Similarly, Bikram Majithia also do not need any big size security.
There are nearly two dozen Hindu outfits known as Shiv Sena which have been provided security heavily. These outfits do not represent the majority community and most of these leaders are mischievous elements. They have raised these outfits in order to secure the state security. You have seen what happened at Phagwara due to the divisive and foolish actions of the leaders of these outfits.
Similarly the Sikh high priests including the jathedar of Akal Takhat, Takhat Damdama Sahib Talwandi Sabo and President of the SGPC have also been provided security by the state government. They are the employees of the SGPC and the SGPC has huge income from the gurudwaras and has an annual budget of over Rs. 1100 crores. Therefore, they can easily be provided security and vehicle by the SGPC.
Similarly, the selfstyled President of All India Anti Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta and his wife are also enjoying heavy security. This should also be curtailed.
Besides the report has also mentioned a number of senior police officers who have retired are having number of vehicles with free fuel. No doubt some of them were involved in fighting the militancy but there should be no wasteful expenditure on their security. Some of the serving bureaucrats have also got police security and vehicles which are used by their wives. Why are they becoming a burden on the state exchequer? They must realize the financial situation of the state and their duty towards the people of Punjab. You are fully aware of the financial crisis in Punjab and a very large number of widows are not getting their pensions, the serving government employees do not get their salaries on the first day of the month and social welfare schemes like free atta-dal and blue card holders are being denied the benefits because of the financial crunch.
I have noticed that you are trying to take some baby steps in the name of austerity like asking Ministers to pay their own income tax, urging well off farmers to shun tubewell subsidy etc. but on the other hand you are turning a complete blind eye to the colossal expenditure being incurred upon the security and vehicles of the above said leaders. I would rate your current austerity measures as being “Penny wise and pound foolish”, unless you review the lopsided security/vehicles facility to the above said.
Therefore, I call upon you to take stock of the situation and save as much money as possible by curtailing the security of unwanted people and deploy more policemen for police stations, as there is no night patrolling in the urban and rural areas.