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A Gift Every Tuesday, Delivering Before Sacrilege Cases Deadline: Channi Govt Has 90 Days to Deliver on Punjab Plan

The 15-member rejigged Cabinet of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has just about 90 days to deliver and ‘undo the inaction’ under the previous regime as the Model Code of Conduct could kick in by end of this year.

The Channi government plans to work overtime to give a ‘gift to people’ every Tuesday at a weekly Cabinet meet that has been institutionalised by the new chief minister.

This 90-day period will be marked by key landmarks mid-way. The biggest is the six-month deadline set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on April 9 for Special Investigation Teams (SITs) to conclude their probe in the sacrilege and police firing cases of Faridkot in 2015. Only two weeks are left for the same and both Channi and Sidhu have promised to bring the “real culprits” to book.

ALSO READ | Nod to Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sidhu’s Thumbs Down & Manpreet Badal’s Masterstroke: How Channi Won Punjab’s ‘Game of Thrones’

Senior Congress leaders from Punjab are expected to up the tempo on this and ask the government to act within a few weeks and arrest the Badals. “The HC gave six months from date of the reconstitution of the SITs — which was done with delay in May by the Captain government. But we know the pressure will start to come as October 9 nears,” one of Punjab’s cabinet ministers, who was sworn in for the first time on Sunday, told News18. A new officiating DGP and a new Chief Secretary are in place.

Incidentally, the SITs have been instructed by the HC to work under no interference from any quarter and not report to any state executive or police authority regarding the probe. It hence remains unclear how the executive is promising action. Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has already dared CM Channi and PCC chief Sidhu to do so if they can, and said he “could not have broken the law”. The SITs have questioned former CM Parkash Singh Badal, his son and former deputy CM Sukhbir Badal, as well as the former State Police Chief Sumedh Singh Saini.

ALSO READ | Mood for Change in Punjab as Hapless Voter Searches for ‘Lesser Evil’. Who Will Cash in on This Disappointment?

The time is short for the various welfare measures the state government plans to deliver — like free power to the poor, opening up jobs for youth, regularisation of contractural jobs in the government and many other promises of the government. Hence, Channi plans to deliver on one count every week at the weekly cabinet meet and extensively tour the state to reach out and connect with the maximum people. “Inaccessibility of the earlier CM is a major grouse with people. Channi wants to reverse that image and reach out to people,” a leader said.

The model code of conduct had come into effect in Punjab on January 4 in the last elections in 2017 and on December 24, 2011 before the 2012 elections. Hence, the MCC announcement this year is expected anytime between the two said dates — giving just 90 days for the new government to take any policy and welfare decisions.

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