Chief minister Bhagwant Mann sacked AAP’s Mansa MLA Dr Vijay Singla, who was later arrested, for demanding 1% commission on tenders and purchases of health department
A day after Punjab’s health minister Dr Vijay Singla was sacked by chief minister Bhagwant Mann and arrested for corruption, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator’s family alleged a conspiracy behind the charges of kickbacks for clearing tenders.
The Mansa MLA’s elder brother Kewal Singla, who is the general manager of a nationalised bank in Delhi, said the family is taking the legal recourse to defend Dr Singla. “There is a serious nefarious design to implicate Vijay. It is difficult to identify the perpetrators at the moment but we will fight back against the bid to tarnish my brother’s image. The truth will come out soon,” Kewal said over phone.
He said no one from the family has spoken to any AAP leader yet.
Dr Vijay Singla’s wife Anita Singla declined comment, too. “We will issue a statement at an opportune time,” said Anita, a non-practicising Ayurveda doctor.
Dr Singla’s officer on special duty (OSD) and nephew Pradeep Kumar was also arrested under Sections 7 and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act that was registered on the complaint of Rajinder Singh, a superintending engineer of Punjab Health Systems Corporation.
“Pradeep is my bhanja (son of a cousin) and he was working with Vijay for the past few weeks. I have no idea the kind of work Pradeep was allocated and where his office was. Since Vijay assumed office on March 19, I visited him twice,” Kewal added.
A resident of Bathinda, Pradeep runs a plywood sale business at the local mandi and maintains no political background.
Blow for Mansa assembly segment
Chanderkant Garg, the vice-president of the Mansa District Arthiya Association, said the corruption allegation against the sitting MLA has disappointed electors of the constituency. Garg said the state government and the AAP leadership owe an explanation on how the minister was allowed to have his close relative as a political appointee in his own ministry.
“In the last election, Mansa elected AAP’s Nazar Singh Manshahia, who made a mockery of the mandate by defecting to the ruling Congress. This time, the MLA who got 58% of the votes has been charged with corruption by his own government. This has come as a blow to a backward district like Mansa,” Garg said.
Singla’s friend and president of the AAP’s urban unit, Kamal Goyal, said their supporters are maintaining a wait and watch approach. “Charges of corruption are made by none other than the CM. We are waiting for the investigating agency or the state government to throw more light on the incident in the coming days. The AAP is clear on no corruption,” said Goyal.
Singla’s house under tight security
The police have beefed up security around Dr Singla’s newly built house on Chakerian Road in the town.
Dr Singla earlier stayed in ward number 10 and moved to the new house in a spacious locality early this month. His wife declined to confirm if the family was residing in the same house or at another place.
The MLA’s friend and activist, Ashok Sapolia, said the police have restricted the movement of outsiders to the house.
Mansa SSP Gaurav Toora was unavailable for comment.