Official machinery is being misused for the tall order of making the Fateh Rally of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi a success.
Punjab’s district transport officers (DTOs) will take away the operators’ entire fleets to be able to organise all buses required to ferry people from across the state to Jagraon on Sunday. From the 22 revenue districts, 70% of them are there already to carry out the orders of their political masters.
The DTOs of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Sangrur, Bathinda, and Kapurthala have reported at Jagraon. “The state transport commissioner (STC) has asked us to organise the buses for the rally. Each DTO has a specific target from the Akali halqa (constituency) in-charge concerned, which may vary from 50 to 15 buses, depending upon the number the officer is willing to carry,” said a DTO.
Asked why the department had sent the DTOs to Jagraon to make transportation arrangements for a political rally, STC Prithi Chand first denied the charge but, later, said they were there to maintain law and order by the virtue of their magisterial powers. Confronted with the statement of the DTOs that it was his orders they were complying with, the STC said he was unaware.
Punjab BJP leader Jagdish Raj Sawhney, who is also working president of the Punjab Motor Union, said all successive governments had been doing it to make political rallies a success.
“Our union operates 4,400 large and 6,000 mini buses. Many of our private transporter members have received calls from the DTOs and Akali halqa in-charges to say they have to spare buses. They have no option but to agree, or the government will harass them, later. We have requested the officials to take away only 50% of the fleets from each transporter so that our daily commuters do not suffer,” said
Asked if the DTOs paid the transporters after taking away all the buses, Sawhney said: “They commit to pay only the fuel cost but not the hiring charges.” Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann accused the DTOs of holding 7,500 buses across Punjab to ferry people to Modi’s rally.