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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Sukhbir Badal’s dig at Manpreet: ‘You’re more poet, less finance minister’

When Sukhbir Badal was taking jibes at Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, the latter kept on listening patiently and did not react.

punjab Updated: Mar 28, 2018 09:46 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal at the assembly during the budget session in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal at the assembly during the budget session in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh /HT)

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday took potshots at finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal in the Punjab assembly and termed him “incompetent” and “more poet and less finance minister”.

Participating in the debate over the budget proposals, Sukhbir accused the finance minister of fudging the figures claiming that the budget document is just a statement of broken promises and directionless policies with no fresh and constructive ideas.

“A good finance minister gives fresh and constructive ideas while a bad budget and a bad finance minister give only figures. A good competent finance minister will have solution for all problems, but an incompetent one will only talk about problems and have no solution. This is what he has has done in this budget,” Sukhbir said.

The SAD chief said that assessment of any finance minister should be done by what he has said in his previous budget speech and how much of it has been implemented.

“If you take a look at the last year’s budget, it seems like 70 per cent of that has been reproduced. The finance minister uses Persian in his speech and it seems there is a communication gap between him and his officers,” he said.

He said Manpreet has created a negative perception among investors that Punjab is reeling under unprecedented debt.

“One of the most debt-ridden nations is Japan, where debt is 227 per cent of their GDP. Even the US has over 100 per cent debt of its GDP. The problem is that Manpreet Badal knows little about financial matters and more about poetry. The chief minister is acting like a maharaja of the olden times. The maharajas used to keep a state poet (raj kavi) and a court jester (maskhara). Capt Amarinder Singh has both,” Sukhbir said in an apparent jibe at Manpreet and local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

When Sukhbir was taking jibes at Manpreet, the latter kept on listening patiently and did not react.

But when Sukhbir ended his speech, the finance minister asked Sukhbir and other Akali MLAs to wait for his reply to the budget speech that was scheduled at the end of the debate. “Hun marad baneyo te bhajeyoo naa (Now be men and don’t run away),” he said.

When AAP MLA Amarjeet Sandoa was speaking, Manpreet requested the speaker to reschedule the time for his reply to Wednesday. The speaker rescheduled the finance minister’s reply even as SAD members objected to it.

“The business advisory committee has decided that the finance minister will reply to the debate by today evening. He even challenged us to be present during the reply. Now, the government is running away,” said SAD legislator Bikram Singh Majithia amid noisy scenes.

Since many Congress MLAs had left the House by this time, Majithia even demanded voting to pass the budget but it was turned down by the speaker. Later, Sukhbir told mediapersons outside the House that Manpreet could not face him and deliberately rescheduled the reply. “He already knew that I won’t be in the Vidhan Sabha tomorrow as I have to visit Shahkot where an AAP leader will join the Akali Dal,” he said.

Earlier, Congress MLAs Vijay Inder Singla, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Harpartap Ajnala; AAP’s Amarjeet Sandoa, Manjeet Singh Bilaspur, Harpal Cheema and BJP’s Som Parkash, Arun Narang participated in the debate.