The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) held protest outside the Punjab Assembly complex here today, seeking immediate sacking of state cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh over for the alleged allotment of mining contracts to his former employees.
As many as 19 MLAs belonging to AAP and its ally the Lok Insaaf Party along with their supporters, who had planned to march towards Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s residence from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, were stopped by the Chandigarh police outside the assembly complex. As AAP party leaders, led by state unit chief Bhagwant Mann and leader of opposition H S Phoolka, forcefully tried to move towards the CM’s residence, the Chandigarh police took all of them into preventive custody.
However, some MLAs managed to alight from the police bus in which they had been made to sit and ran towards the CM’s residence, despite the heavy police deployment. The cops managed to stop the MLAs, after they had covered some distance, but some of the legislators including Sukhpal Singh Khaira sat on the road, blocking the way to Punjab Vidhan Sabha as well as the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“What is wrong in meeting the CM? We are MLAs and we have been kept in illegal detention,” fumed Aman Arora, MLA from Sunam. The opposition MLAs were then taken to sector 17 police station. Earlier, talking to media, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, who is the state unit chief, attacked the Punjab government alleging that cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh had pumped in money through his former staff into mining contracts. He demanded that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should immediately sack the minister.
The AAP also dismissed the probe ordered by the state government in the alleged mining bids and termed it an “eyewash.” Sangrur MP Mann alleged that the present government was functioning like the previous Akali regime. Corrupt practices are continuing as before, only agents have changed, Mann alleged.
“It is surprising that Rana’s former employee, a cook, who drew a salary of just Rs 11,000, paid a huge sum to bag a mining contract worth Rs 26.51 crore,” Mann claimed. He demanded that the minister must resign or he should be dismissed from the cabinet in view of the inquiry, or else the entire exercise would appear to be meaningless.
Mann said the opposition party MLAs will meet Punjab Governor on the issue and added that state-wide protest will be launched against the state government if the minister was not removed. Khaira, AAP MLA from Bholath said the “belated inquiry ordered by Amarinder Singh into the mining scandal appears to be a tailor-made exercise to absolve the accused minister”.
Till the time Rana Gurjit Singh continues to be a member of cabinet, the said inquiry can never be free, fair and impartial, Khaira alleged. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had yesterday ordered the setting up a one-man judicial commission to probe the allegations against Rana Gurjit Singh. The inquiry will be conducted by Justice (Retd) J S Narang and he would submit his report within one month, officials said.