BJP tries to overthrow AAP government in Punjab, offering cash: minister

CHANDIGARH: Amid allegations of an ‘extortion’ conversation with his minister, PA Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Tuesday accused the BJP government at the Center of carrying out ‘Operation Lotus in Punjab by offering Rs 25 crore to at least 10 lawmakers to destabilize the government.

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

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is currently in Germany wooing investors.

These deputies were also offered big jobs. They were told that “if you get more MPs, you would be given up to Rs 75 crore,” said Cheema, who accompanied lawmakers Sheetal Angural, Manjit Singh Bilaspur, Raman Arora, Labh Singh Ugoke and Rupinder Singh Happy.

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

Cheema, however, refused to disclose the names of MPs approached by the BJP. “The party’s legal unit is looking into the matter, and at this stage we do not wish to release the names,” he added.

He said the BJP had set aside Rs 1,375 crore to poach AAP MPs as part of Operation Lotus.

AAP Punjab tweeted: “Serial killer BJP has now launched his Operation Lotus in Punjab. Offering 25 crores to AAP MPs in Punjab. But BJP forgets that no MPs from Aam Aadmi party are for sale. BJP’s operation will fail in Punjab too.”

An audio clip of an alleged ‘extortion’ conversation between AAP Cabinet Minister Fauja Singh Sarari and his aide Tarsem Lal Kapoor has caught the attention of parties, including Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who demanded a CBI investigation into the case.

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

Sarari, who owns the welfare, food processing and horticulture departments, denied the allegations and filed a complaint with the police.

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

“The OSD (aid) has publicly stated that the audio tape is authentic and it is now up to the government to turn over the tape along with all of the allegations against Sarari to the CBI so that they can be fully probed,” said Majithia.

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