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Akali leaders gun for Punjab finance minister

Akali leaders gun for Punjab finance minister

Chandigarh, Oct 9  :  Within a week of linking Punjab’s serious debt situation to populist policies of the ruling Akali Dal, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal is in the firing line of his partymen who are seeking “strict disciplinary action” against him.

The action, which could be either seeking his resignation, forcing him to resign or dropping him from the government, could come soon given the way the leaders of the Akali Dal have reacted to Manpreet Badal’s remarks.

Senior party leader Gurdev Singh Badal told media here Saturday that he had already recommended strict action against the finance minister.

The finance minister, who is a nephew of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, is being seen by loyalists of the Badal family as someone who is challenging the leadership of Badal’s son Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Akali Dal president and the state’s deputy chief minister.

The controversy over the Manpreet issue Saturday saw district unit chiefs being summoned for a meeting here and they unanimously seeking action against the finance minister.

The finance minister’s recent comments that the Punjab government will have to do away with subsidies and populist freebies, like free power to farmers, which is in variance to the Akali Dal policy and manifesto, has brought him in direct confrontation with Sukhbir Badal.

The finance minister said that Punjab will have to accept a conditional offer from the central government to help take the state out of a Rs.650 billion debt that it has accumulated.

Even though Manpreet, two days back, tried to down-play the controversy saying that the chief minister had given him a clean chit on the issue, he got a snub from Chief Minister Badal later who clearly said that no indiscipline, from any leader, would be tolerated.

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