Asked if Manpreet will be dropped from the council of ministers, SAD secretary and spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema told PTI that it was the prerogative of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He, however, said further action against the finance minister, who is a nephew of the CM, is likely after October 20 by when SAD expects a reply from Manpreet to the show cause notice delivered at his residence.
Cheema said the party has accepted the recommendation of suspension made earlier in the day by the five-member disciplinary action committee headed by senior minister Ranjit Singh Brahampura. "A show cause notice in the form of the recommendation of the disciplinary committee has been sent to the residence of the finance minister, who has been asked to submit his reply by October 20," Cheema added.
Party insiders said there were little chances of Manpreet making up with the leadership as the current tussle has stretched too far. With SAD leaders throwing their weight behind Sukhbir, Manpreet has been pushed to the corner and had reportedly even offered to quit if CM Badal wants him to.
The suspension of 48-year-old Manpreet, a four-time MLA from Gidderbaha in Faridkot district, came a day before he was to release documents pertaining to the central debt waiver. The action also came when Manpreet was stated to be in Delhi for a meeting with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Manpreet has been in the midst of a row in ruling SAD-BJP alliance after he supported the reported offer by Mukherjee for waiving of a part of the Rs 70,000-crore debt of the state, which mainly arose during the militancy days, but with certain conditions like cutting power subsidies to farmers and levying of user charge in some service sectors.
Sukhbir Singh Badal nd a number of other SAD leaders and alliance partner BJP have countered Manpreet saying the state had not received any debt waiver offer in writing.
Manpreet, who is also a member of key political affairs committee of SAD, is the party's first minister to have been suspended. Twelve ministers were dropped from SAD ministry during the previous rule by the party, after SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal had differences with the senior leader and late Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra. All those dropped, including Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Manjit Singh Calcutta, were loyalists of Tohra.