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Punjab Minister sacked, arrested for asking bribe for tenders

Ruling Aam Aadmi Party's Health Minister in Punjab Vijay Singla had been allegedly taking 1 per cent commission on tenders. Before sacking him, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann called him to his residence and played a record in which Singla is heard telling a man from Bathinda that he should give the commission ('shukrana') to his nephew.

AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Proud of you Bhagwant. Ur action has brought tears to my eyes. The whole nation today feels proud of AAP.”

CHANDIGARH, May 24: Punjab Health Minister Vijay Singla was sacked and arrested over corruption charges on Tuesday. The Aam Aadmi Party leader had been allegedly taking 1 per cent commission on tenders floated by the Health and Family Welfare department.

AAP leader and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said Singla had admitted to the corruption charges. Singla has been arrested by the anti-corruption cell of the Punjab police after Mann ordered that an FIR be registered. AAP is the only party that has the integrity, courage and uprightness to take action against its own leaders on grounds of corruption, he said.

AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Proud of you Bhagwant. Ur action has brought tears to my eyes. The whole nation today feels proud of AAP.”

Mann said that the decision was taken to ensure that his Government remains free of corrupt practices. He said that such an incident had happened only for the second time in the country. “In 2015, Kejriwal had sacked his food and civil supplies minister after a video of his seeking bribe was shown to him. I want to tell everyone that I won’t tolerate corruption of even ?1. We had taken an oath in martyr Bhagat Singh’s Khatkar Kalan village. We promised we would run a corruption-free government,” he said.

Mann had earlier called Singla to his residence and played a recording of his demanding 'shukrana' (commission). Singla is heard telling a man from Bathinda in the record that he should give the commission amount to his nephew. The department buys thousands of crores worth of medicines and medical equipment through tenders.

"I am taking strict action against the Minister. I am removing him from the Cabinet. We have found substantial proof of his involvement in corruption case. I do not care if the Opposition parties want to use this to hit out at us, saying a minister removed on corruption charges within two months. The point is that we will not tolerate anyone indulging in such malpractices. Our party national convenor has made it clear that corruption will not be tolerated. He had himself removed a minister in Delhi in 2015 after corruption charges were levelled against the minister,” the Chief Minister said in a video message on social media.

“I could have brushed the complaint under the carpet since neither the media nor Opposition parties was aware of it. But since the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has adopted zero tolerance against corruption, I immediately sacked the Minister,” he said.

"The AAP is the only party that has the integrity, courage and uprightness to take action against their own on grounds of corruption. We saw it in Delhi, now we are witnessing it in Punjab. ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CORRUPTION," party leader Raghav Chadha tweeted.

Vijay Singla had won Mansa constituency with the highest number of votes in the recent election. The first AAP Government was formed in Punjab after the Assembly elections two months ago. Bhagwant Mann was sworn in as Chief Minister on March 16 last. He had said that the AAP's top priority is fighting corruption.

Meanwhile, AAP MLA Dr Balbir Singh and 3 others, including his wife and son, were awarded 3-year rigorous imprisonment in an 11-year old assault case relating to ancestral property on Monday. They were granted bail. Balbir Singh is the MLA from Patiala (rural).

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