The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today hit back at Navjot Singh Sidhu after the Punjab minister released a letter to media and asked him to refrain from playing "petty politics" by "misleading" the people. "First read, understand and then act before talking about a centre's letter," SAD secretary Daljeet Singh Cheema said here. "Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu has written the letter (which was released by Sidhu to media) to the state government on April 20, 2017, requesting the chief minister to review the progress of various ongoing missions and sought his cooperation so that further instalments of funds could be released," he said in a statement here. Even after a gap of one month, instead of fulfilling the shortcomings mentioned in the letter and getting funds released, the minister is resorting to cheap political gimmicks to blame the SAD leadership, he said. Cheema said that "Naidu has positively observed that projects are getting delayed due to non release of funds some times by state government and sometimes by the union government". "Sidhu has misled the people by alleging that Rs 400 crore released by the centre has been embezzled by the previous government," he said. In reality and as per the contents of the letter, it is clear that Ludhiana Smart City project is in the initial stage and only Rs 200 crore was received by the state government, he said. The then Punjab government had released Rs 32 crore, he said, adding that the union minister's letter is clear about the formation of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and appointment of project management consultants which was the basic necessity for release of funds. Earlier in the day, Sidhu had alleged that the letter from Naidu had mentioned that funds for three key missions-- Smart City, AMRUT and Swachh Bharat for Punjab will only be released if the state government expedites their execution. The letter was released by Sidhu here today, claiming that it "vindicated" his stand on blaming former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal for the "diversion" of funds meant for the three key missions during previous SAD-BJP regime.
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