The Punjab government has cut the number of delegates who will take the first international flight from Chandigarh to Sharjah on September 15.
The list trimmed from 50 to 17 has only Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) ministers and legislators, besides officers. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal will still lead the delegation.
The state government will buy the Air India Express tickets for the deputy CM, four ministers and five officers, while the party will sponsor seven legislators. On August 30, HT reported that the delegates will also go to Dubai on public exchequer’s expense. The “outreach visit” will go on till September 17. The round-trip will cost the government Rs 1.5 lakh for 10 people.
The principal secretary to the deputy CM has issued a letter saying that Sukhbir has “re-examined” the list endorsed by the CM and “felt the need for some changes”.
The team’s objective is to bring foreign investment to Punjab.
The passenger list includes Punjab ministers Sikandar Singh Maluka, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, and Parminder Singh Dhindsa, besides CM’s adviser Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal. Principal secretaries Vishavjeet Khanna (housing and urban development), PS Aujla (to the deputy CM), and Anirudh Tewari (industries and commerce); public relations secretary Rahul Tewari; and Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) chief administrator Amit Dhaka will also be on board. Chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal opted out because of official preoccupations.
Akali legislators NK Sharma, Pawan Kumar Teenu, Harmeet Singh Sandhu, Mantar Brar, Saroop Chand Singla, Virsa Singh Valtoha and GS Wadala will also go. All will stay at fivestar Hotel Oberoi in Dubai.
There is no Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on the passenger list. “They took my passport,” said Punjab industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal. “After that I don’t know why my name was deleted.” Local bodies minister Anil Joshi said: “I am not even aware of the Sharjah trip.”