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Cong. MLAs pull punches at Govt., Opposition lauds

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, MARCH 16. The discussion on corruption in the Delhi Assembly today literally turned into an internal tug-of-war within the Congress with several Members availing of the opportunity to pull punches at the Chief Minister and the Ministers.

The most vociferous of the lot was the MLA from Kalkaji, Subhash Chopra, who was in fact applauded and hailed as "Mister Minister" by the Opposition members as he rose to speak. Living up to expectations, Mr Chopra said he was not satisfied with the measures that had been taken to curb corruption in the wake of the Sales Tax Department expose.

"On the gate of the building," he said, "a board stating `media entry is prohibited' has come up. Is this a law? If so, then why was it not implemented earlier? Why does it not cover other government departments and on whose instructions has the board been installed?" he demanded to know, adding that "such instructions raise doubts".

Mr Chopra, who requested the Chief Minister and the Minister to concentrate more on checking corruption in their departments, said corruption was a serious issue as all the MLAs were representatives of the people of Delhi and so had to answer them.

But, he said, as the expose of the Sales Tax Department had shown, bribery and corruption was rampant. "If the state of government departments is this, how are we as representatives of the people addressing the problem?"

The senior Congress members also wanted to know what the Vigilance Departments were doing. "We say 30 have been suspended. But what about those against whom no action has been taken? Why have others been spared?" he asked, adding that the Members need to rise above party lines to address the issue.

The MLA from Hastsal, Mukesh Sharma, said categorically, "I am not here to defend anyone or to indulge in sycophancy", and wondered why the issue of promotion of liquor vends in the residential areas was not being raised simultaneously by the Opposition. He also expressed anguish at the fact that rather than promoting its own "honest workers" by allotting them PDS shops, the Congress Government has entrusted the task to a committee of officers.

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