Chandigarh, May 10 (IANS) The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), here on Sunday, said a constitutional crisis had erupted in Punjab with Cabinet Ministers expressing loss of faith in the government and also alleged a multi-crore liquor scam in the state.
It demanded a CBI inquiry into the scam, involving sale of illicit liquor during curfew by distilleries owned by Congress leaders and their friends.
It was unfortunate when every state was doing utmost to combat Covid-19, the Punjab Cabinet was fighting with bureaucrats, as witnessed in Saturday’s pre-Cabinet meeting, said SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema.
“With the Cabinet not trusting bureaucrats and vice versa, there is a leadership crisis due to which Punjab and Punjabis are suffering. The Punjab government would do well and stop questioning the Centre everyday to divert attention from its failures and tell the people why its leaders and their friends were allowed to loot the state exchequer,” he said.
Cheema said certain Congress leaders and their friends who owned distilleries in Punjab were openly selling liquor from their units. This sale, happening in truck loads without paying excise duty and under the police protection, had caused huge losses to the state, he added.
Simultaneously, there was large-scale smuggling of liquor from Haryana, he said. “This is the reason that when liquor vends opened there were no takers as liquor had been provided to consumers through the black market. Even the proposal of home delivery of liquor is aimed at encouraging distilleries as well as Congress leaders engaged in this business.”
Holding Chief Minister Amarinder Singh responsible for this state of affairs as he also holds the excise portfolio, the SAD leader said the Chief Minister had not only failed to check the illegal liquor sale during the Covid-19 pandemic but had also failed to order an inquiry into it.
“This has also compromised the state’s fight against Covid-19 and caused funds shortage for health infrastructure, safety of health workers besides leading to the highest mortality rates,” Cheema said.
On Saturday’s pre-Cabinet meeting incident, Cheema said it seemed the Chief Minister and his coterie were running the government without taking the Cabinet into confidence.
“That Cabinet Ministers walked out of the meeting indicates the Chief Minister doesn’t have their support. Simultaneously, the same Cabinet Ministers, who are acting holier than thou and talking about loss to the state exchequer are accused of patronising illegal liquor sale.
“Many have also been open votaries of home delivery of liquor. It proves the fight yesterday (Saturday) was not one aimed at protecting the state revenue but filling personal coffers,” the SAD leader said.
Saying only a CBI inquiry could get to the bottom of the multi-thousand crore scam, Cheema said besides inquiring into the illegal release of liquor stock from distilleries owned by Congressmen, the inquiry should also investigate illegal liquor sale by the Congress-led liquor mafia and fix accountability for the losses incurred to the state.