Punjab Chief Secretary Relieved Of Key Duty After Face-Off With Ministers

Principal Secretary (Water Resources) A Venu Prasad will now hold the additional charge of FC Taxation, according to an order issued in Chandigarh.

Punjab Chief Secretary Relieved Of Key Duty After Face-Off With Ministers

Karan Avtar Singh had a face-off with ministers last week.

Chandigarh, Punjab:

Three days after his showdown with state ministers, Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh on Tuesday night was relieved of the additional charge of Financial Commissioner Taxation.

Principal Secretary (Water Resources) A Venu Prasad will now hold the additional charge of FC Taxation, according to an order issued in Chandigarh.

As Mr Prasad is on leave till May 20, Principal Secretary Anirudh Tewari will look after the work of the post of Financial Commissioner Taxation in addition to his present assignments, it added.

Relieving Karan Avtar Singh of the additional charge of FC Taxation unceremoniously came after a face-off between him and Punjab ministers at Saturday's pre-cabinet meeting over the revision of the excise policy.

At the meeting, Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was learnt to have opposed any relief for liquor vend owners in the excise policy under discussion. The chief secretary had allegedly made some "curt remarks" after Channi spoke.

Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Channi had then walked out. It was reportedly followed by other ministers after some time. The development led to the postponement of the cabinet meeting scheduled for that day.

However, after the cabinet meeting on Monday, Mr Badal had said the "behaviour, body language and style of conversation" of Karan Avtar Singh before the cabinet did not behove the chief secretary''s office.

Both Mr Badal and Mr Channi on Monday had said they would not participate in any meeting attended by the state''s chief secretary, deepening the crisis triggered by the showdown between the ministers and the state''s top bureaucrat.

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Badal had announced his intention at a cabinet meeting before Chief Minister Amarinder Singh against the alleged "unacceptable behaviour" of the chief secretary.

He had even urged the CM "to decide whether to call the CS or us to a meeting".

After the crisis escalated, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar too backed the ministers, asking the top bureaucrat to "step back".

Congress MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring had also attacked the chief secretary and alleged that his son had an undeclared business interest in a Punjab distillery

The showdown between the chief official and ministers gave enough fodder to the Opposition to attack the Amarinder Singh-led government.

The opposition parties' leaders had said a "constitutional crisis" had erupted in the state with cabinet ministers "losing faith" in their government.

They had also said the state ministers seemed to be "helpless" in the hands of the bureaucracy and asked them to "part ways" with the chief minister.