Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal. (File/PTI)
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and his estranged cousin Sukhbir Singh Badal Thursday entered into a verbal duel on twitter over state’s financial health with the SAD chief accusing the government of ruining the state’s economy and the Congress leader retorting that he was trying to clear the mess left behind by the previous regime.
It all started with Sukhbir tweeting clippings of newspaper reports about Punjab employees staging protest over delay in salary payment. “Congress govt’s failures have led to tragic consequences. The FM justifies delay in staff salaries saying depts did not furnish details. How is that fault of employees? Typical of the @INCPunjab to abandon those it is responsible for and look for scapegoats,” Sukhbir said in a tweet.
Hitting back, Manpreet told Sukhbir, “I am only trying to clear the mess that you (previous SAD-led govt) left behind, and get rid of the culture of hidden bank accounts, not reporting on actual finances, fiscal ineptness, and cleverly crafted contracts that hurt Punjab but enrich others.”
Sukhbir retorted by sating: “As usual, you are trying to shift the blame where it is not due @MS Badal. Revenue generation is the job of the state government. During our (SAD-BJP) tenure, we fulfilled aspirations of all sections of the society. Passing the buck gets you nowhere. It’s been 3 years, figure it out”.
Not to back down, Manpreet hit out at Sukhbir with another tweet. “Coming from someone who left Punjab with (Rs) 31,000 crore CCL (Cash Credit Limit) debt which you signed one day before counting of votes (nearly three years ago), and mortgaged the future of Punjab forever..coming from someone during whose government social security was always in arrears,” Manpreet said.
However, claiming that the state’s economy was in a shambles, Sukhbir asked Manpreet to quit if he was finding it difficult to manage things. “For the last 3 years, you have been just making excuses.. if it is that difficult for you, why not quit instead of making people pay? We never faulted on salaries & social welfare schemes because people’s lives are sacrosanct. But for you, they are collateral damages,” Sukhbir said in another tweet.
Employees of four departments including technical education and industrial training and irrigation had held a pen-down strike earlier this week to protest against non-payment of salaries for October.
Manpreet, however, had blamed these departments for not following the directions of the finance department to disclose their bank accounts, money lying in these accounts and strength of the outsourced employees. Manpreet had said the state government was not short of funds for the payment of salaries to government employees, saying the pay to protesting employees of four departments was withheld for not complying with the instructions of Finance Department.