Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said on Wednesday he had decided to say goodbye to the state government and the Shiromani Akali Dal, and indicated he would form his own outfit.
He also alleged the state machinery had been shadowing him.
Within minutes of the announcement of Manpreet’s press conference, the state government said in a statement it had decided to sack Manpreet. On Tuesday, the party had suspended his primary membership.
Four MLAs have followed in Manpreet’s footsteps. They are Sant Ajit Singh, Jagbir Singh Brar, Manjinder Singh Kang (all of the SAD) and independent MLA Charanjit Singh Channi.
Refusing to be drawn into the issue whether he was sacked or he resigned, Manpreet said: “I sent my resignation letters to the chief minister and governor. I spoke to the governor on the phone and urged him to accept my resignation.”
Manpreet's suspension by the party was a fallout of Manpreet’s interview in the October 5 Chandigarh editions of the Hindustan Times in which he criticised his cousin and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s “corporate style of functioning”. Manpreet also made a strong pitch for accepting the Centre’s offer to waive at least half of the state's debt of R70,000 crore.
At his press conference on Wednesday, Manpreet indicated that he would float a party soon and would “knock at every house” in the state to seek support. He said the state machinery kept his activities under surveillance and his telephones were being tapped.
A state government spokesperson said the decision to dismiss Manpreet was a follow-up to his suspension from the party for his supposed acts of indiscipline.
At the CM’s residence on Wednesday, senior Akali leaders told Parkash Singh Badal it would be embarrassing for other ministers to encounter Manpreet because of his suspended status. The CM decided to drop Manpreet. In the Assembly, which has 117 seats, the SAD has 51 members (before the current trouble), and its ally BJP 19, adding up to 70.