Punjab minister seeks CBI probe against herself
Punjab Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla on Wednesday sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against herself and others after a senior leader of her own party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), levelled serious allegations of corruption and maladministration against her.
The BJP set up a two-member probe committee following serious allegations of corruption made against her by senior party leader and colleague in the Punjab government, Jagdish Sahni.
The BJP is a partner in the alliance government with the Akali Dal in Punjab.
Sahni is a chief parliamentary secretary in the Punjab government and a BJP legislator from the Batala assembly constituency near Amritsar.
"Let the CBI hold an inquiry first against me and also against others about all that has happened since 1988. I don't want to say much at this stage and will let the party decide in this matter," Chawla said.
Sahni, while addressing reporters on Wednesday, levelled serious allegations against Chawla, known to be an upright politician and minister and not liked by many because of her hard stand on most issues. He said she had amassed wealth running into crores of rupees.
Sahni alleged that the health minister allowed an ayurvedic institution in Amritsar, from where she hails, to get a stock of nearly 350 kg of opium instead of the norm of just 1 kg.
"The opium is openly being sold in the market," he alleged.
Sahni's outburst against Chawla has again brought the infighting within the BJP in Punjab out in the open.
"Out of the 19 BJP legislators, 18 are against her (Chawla)," Sahni claimed.
Balbir Punj, BJP leader in-charge of the party's affirs in Punjab, told reporters that the party had set up a two-member committee to probe the allegations.
Punjab BJP president Ashwini Sharma said action would be taken depending on the outcome of the probe.