North India

BJP trying to topple AAP govt in Punjab, offering money: Minister

Cheema told the media here that the BJP "is trying to buy our MLAs by offering Rs 25 crore each to seven to 10 MLAs".

Chandigarh: Amidst allegations of an ‘extortion’ conversation featuring its minister, AAP Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Tuesday accused the BJP government at the Centre of carrying out ‘Operation Lotus’ in Punjab by offering Rs 25 crore to at least 10 legislators to destabilise the government.

Cheema told the media here that the BJP “is trying to buy our MLAs by offering Rs 25 crore each to seven to 10 MLAs”.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is currently in Germany to woo investors.

These MLAs have also been offered big posts. They were told that “if you get more MLAs along, you would be given up to Rs 75 crore,” said Cheema, who was accompanying legislators Sheetal Angural, Manjit Singh Bilaspur, Raman Arora, Labh Singh Ugoke and Rupinder Singh Happy.

The MLAs were told: “Bade bau-ji se milwayenge (Will introduce you to a senior leader)”.

Cheema, however, refused to disclose the names of the MLAs approached by the BJP. “The party’s legal cell is looking into the matter, and at this stage we would not like to disclose the names,” he added.

He said the BJP has set aside Rs 1,375 crore to poach AAP MLAs under Operation Lotus.

AAP Punjab tweeted, “Serial killer BJP has now brought its Operation Lotus in Punjab. Offering 25 crore to AAP MLAs in Punjab. But the BJP is forgetting that not a single Aam Aadmi Party MLA is for sale. Like Delhi, BJP’s operation will fail in Punjab too.”

An audio clip of a purported ‘extortion’ conversation allegedly between AAP Cabinet Minister Fauja Singh Sarari and his aide Tarsem Lal Kapoor caught the attention of the parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which demanded a CBI probe into the matter.

The minister and his aide can be heard discussing ways to extort money from transporters and officials.

Sarari, who holds the Welfare, Food Processing and Horticulture departments, has denied the allegations and filed a police complaint.

Demanding a CBI inquiry into the alleged extortion tape, SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said the minister was caught discussing a plan to trap some officials and extort money from them.

“The OSD (aide) has stated on record that the audio tape is genuine and now it is up to the government to hand over the tape as well as the entire set of allegations against Sarari to the CBI so that they can be probed thoroughly,” Majithia said.

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