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Finance minister Manpreet defends decision to buy luxury bulletproof SUVs for CM not Badals

Says CM’s a constitutional post, Badals already have armoured sedans

punjab Updated: Oct 19, 2018 23:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
manpreet badal,Punjab finance minister,SUVs
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal(HT File)

With the transport department approving a fleet of new luxury SUVs and other vehicles for chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, ministers, MLAs, officers on special duty (OSDs) and bureaucrats, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal has refused to allow the largesse of new bulletproof Toyota Land Cruisers to former CM Parkash Singh Badal and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal.

After the Uttar Pradesh Police recently foiled an alleged bid to assassinate Badal senior, Amarinder had said full security will be provided to the father-son duo in view of a high threat perception to them.

Following this, the Punjab police have reviewed the threat perception of Badal and Sukhbir.

The transport department on Friday gave a nod to buy 16 Toyota Land Cruisers, including two bulletproof ones, for the CM along with 13 Mahindra Scorpios for his staff. For his officers on special duty (OSDs), 14 Maruti Dzire, Honda Amaze or Ertiga cars have been requisitioned.

While the ministers will Toyota Fortuners against their existing entitlement of Toyota Camrys, the legislators will be given Toyota Crystas against Toyota Innovas. The approval is for 97 Toyota Crytas. The purchase of new vehicles is likely to cost around ₹80 crore to the state exchequer. However, no purchase order has been given by the state government for the new vehicles so far.

Defending his decision to allow new armoured vehicles to Capt Amarinder, Manpreet said the CM’s post is constitutional. “It is not that Badals do not have bullet-proof cars. It is just a matter of old and new. Their bulletproof cars are in a good working condition,” he said.

Two years back, the then Badal government has placed orders to buy 14 Toyota Land Cruisers for the CM, deputy CM and other high-profile protectees from the SAD-BJP. It had spent over ₹12 crore in procuring 100-odd Innovas for all MLAs, 20 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, besides 30 Maruti Gypys to be used as escort vehicles for ministers.

The purchase is bound to raise eyebrows. Amarinder had on Monday blamed the “poor financial condition” of the state for his government’s inability to lower state’s high value added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel and pay more to ad hoc protesting teachers.

First Published: Oct 19, 2018 23:01 IST