Punjab 2011: Embarrassing moments for SAD-BJP coalition

Written by: Pti
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Chandigarh, Jan 3: Corruption charges against some ministers, successful SGPC elections, a slight improvement in the state's skewed sex ratio and the emotional return of Indian prisoner Gopal Dass from Pakistan marked the year 2011 for Punjab. And also read [Major events, top news of 2011]

In a major embarrassment for the state government, coalition partner BJP had to withdraw two of its ministers -- Manoranjan Kalia and Swarna Ram -- from the Cabinet after the duo and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Raj Khurana were named in a Rs 1.50 crore bribery case registered by the CBI.

Another BJP minister Master Mohan Lal (Transport) too faced the axe as differences between him and state party chief Ashwini Sharma came out in the open and brought bad name to the saffron party.

In another embarrassment to the ruling SAD, the Punjab and Haryana High Court set aside party MLA Harish Rai Dhanda's appointment to the coveted post of chairman of Punjab Public Service Commission.

The PCA Stadium in Mohali, where the high-voltage India- Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final was played, provided a perfect stage for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take forward his initiative for peace with Pakistan.

As the nerve-wracking match saw India defeating Pakistan, Singh and his counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani sought to give a push for "genuine normalisation" of ties and agreed that it could happen only in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.

The SAD had to face further embarrassment when the Lokpal ordered an inquiry into a complaint pertaining to the illegal plying of AC buses of the family of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on 73 different routes from and to Chandigarh.

Less than four months after he was appointed, Advocate General Baldev Singh resigned alleging pressure was being put on him to hand over the charge of senior standing counsel of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to another lawyer.

The Lokpal also ordered a probe against former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur for allegedly grabbing 12 acres of nagar panchayat land in Begowal village in Kapurthala district.

Unlike other BJP-ruled states, Punjab proved to be a disappointment for L K Advani during his 'Jan Chetna Yatra'. He not only had to face black flags and eggs, but BJP's alliance partner SAD also kept itself at at a distance during most part of his march in the state.

On the issue of President Pratibha Patil's decision to reject the mercy petition of Khalistan militant Devinderpal Singh Bhullar facing death penalty, the BJP differed with the SAD while Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh found little support from the party cadre on his stand for clemency.

Ahead of next year's assembly polls, the SAD-Sant Samaj swept the SGPC elections. The run-up to the elections saw a lot of heat and uncertainty over the issue of who would be allowed to vote since the first SGPC elections in 1926. It was for the first time that only Keshdhari (baptised) Sikhs were included into the SGPC's voters list.

Gopal Dass, who inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan in 1984, returned to an emotional reunion after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari remitted his jail term in April.

The provisional census 2011 data brought some good news for Punjab as the sex ratio improved from 876 in 2001 to 893.

There were also some cherished moments for the SAD-BJP alliance government. In a major administrative reform, it approved Right to Service ordinance that will ensure timely delivery of services to the people of the state.

'Virasat-e-Khalsa', showcasing history and culture of Punjab, was thrown open to public at Anandpur Sahib.

The Planning Commission agreed to an upward revision of BPL families in the state by two and a half times ensuring that they now constitute 21 per cent of the state's population.

Former Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, an estranged nephew of Badal Senior, launched Peoples Party of Punjab in March.

The government faced law and order problems due to frequent protests by various sections of the society, including Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) teachers, farmers, engineers and doctors.

It was a sad moment when Surinder Jakhar, chairman of IFFCO and son of Congress stalwart and former governor Balram Jakhar, suffered a fatal gunshot at his farm house in Abohar. Badal's ailing wife Surinder Kaur Badal also died after a long battle with cancer.

Taming the fury of Ghaggar River remained a bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana with both states leaving no stone unturned in castigating each other on the issue.

CBI arrested Punjab Police DSP Raka Girra while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh.

Months before assembly polls, the SAD-BJP combine announced creation of two more districts -- Fazilka and Pathankot -- taking the number of districts to 22.

A farmer was killed and several were injured in a clash with police during protests over land acquisition for setting up of a 1350 MW thermal power plant at Gobindpura village in Mansa district.


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