Punjab: The altercation between Karan Avtar Singh and ministers was first reported after the Chief Secretary sent the amendment in the excise policy hours before the Cabinet meeting.
The face-off between Punjab Cabinet ministers and Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh has finally been settled. According to a report in The Indian Express, the Chief Secretary apologised to the Congress ministers who accepted it in the Cabinet meeting specially called for the purpose. The truce ended an 18-day logjam between the ministers and the top babu at a time when the state is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic.
The IE report said the development took place a day after CM Amarinder Singh hosted Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Technical Education Minister Charanjeet Singh Channi for lunch. The meeting was aimed at thawing the tension between the ministers and Karan Avtar Singh. Prior to this, CM Amarinder had hosted Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar and three MLAs.
On Wednesday, the Chief Secretary apologised to the ministers at the very beginning of the Cabinet meeting and then the proceedings were kicked off formally by the CM.
Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh assured the Cabinet that this will not be repeated in the future, the IE report said.
His apology was accepted by ministers Manpreet Badal and Channi in the meeting as the former said the Chief Secretary had apologised thrice and Indian culture advocated forgiveness. Channi seconded Badal. Transport Minister Razia Sultana backed both Badal and Channi and the CM later said that the “issue now stands resolved”.
The Chief Secretary’s tendering apology and ministers accepting it ended in about five minutes and the Cabinet moved on to the agenda.
“The Chief Secretary had apologised for his choice of words, his body language and his attitude that day and said he would not repeat it in future,” Manpreet Badal told the media after the meeting.
“Democracy has won. In democracy, representatives of the people are more important than bureaucracy,” he added.
Manpreet Badal said that Karan Avtar apologised thrice. First, it was soon after the meeting, second he “visited my village to condole my father’s demise and apologised, and finally it was today”.
The altercation between Karan Avtar Singh and ministers was first reported after the Chief Secretary sent the amendment in the excise policy hours before the Cabinet meeting. The ministers protested that there was too little time to study the lengthy document. At the next day’s pre-cabinet meeting, Channi objected to the relief being given to the liquor contractors at the cost of the state exchequer, triggering a heated argument between Karan Avtar and him. State Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Channi and others then walked out of the meeting.
The ministers said that they will not participate in any meeting attended by the Chief Secretary. Karan Avtar Singh was even divested of the additional charge of Financial Commissioner Taxation later.