The Punjab Assembly witnessed a heated exchange of words between the treasury and Opposition benches today as the government tabled a white paper on the state finances accusing the previous SAD-BJP regime of resorting to a "systematic loot" of the resources. Opposition SAD dubbed the government's white paper a "white lie" and presented its own set of documents calling them "genuine white paper" and insisted it be allowed to be tabled. From the government side, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal tabled the white paper during the ongoing budget session of the Assembly.
He was countered by the "genuine white paper" presented by senior Akali leader and ex-finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa. The Congress government has said one of the objectives of the regime would be to streamline expenditure, bring down the revenue deficit and raise additional resources to put the state's fiscal situation on track. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had recently said Punjab is reeling under a debt of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore, much higher than the anticipated Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Former finance minister Dhindsa and other legislators from his party waved copies of their own "white paper" in the House. Dhindsa said the SAD's "white paper" portrays the "actual situation" of the state finances from 2002-2017. "This is the genuine white paper," he declared. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and senior party leader Bikram Singh Majithia were also present as the opposition legislators waved the copies of their "white paper" titled "genuine white paper versus Congress' white lies". Akali legislators remained adamant that their "white paper" be tabled. As the SAD legislators agitated, state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu launched a stinging attack on them, saying they are claiming their paper to be a super white paper, "but this is a chitta (chitta means white and is also used to refer to drugs in Punjab) paper, which destroyed youth". Heated exchange of words ensued between Sidhu and SAD lawmakers. There was also a verbal duel between Sidhu and Majithia. SAD members then decided to stage a walkout from the House, but Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes. Earlier, Congress MLA, Kulbir Singh Zira, brought a privilege motion against Simarjeet Bains, alleging that the Lok Insaaf Party MLA picked up and tore off some papers which were lying on his table during the assembly session last week.
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