The SAD on Thursday described the Union Human Resource Development Ministrys move to send a four-member team to probe alleged irregularities in the education department as a breach of decorum and federal structure.
On the second day of its three-day visit,the Central team summoned more records and officials to investigate the procurement process for library books under Sarv Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and science kits under Rashtriya Madhmik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
This comes at a time when the judicial inquiry ordered into the irregularities by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal by former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge A N Jindal is yet to begin.
Accusing the Congress of staging a drama,SAD secretary and spokesman Daljit Cheema on Thursday said decorum demanded that the HRD Ministry should have waited for Justice Jindal to submit his report. For the Congress,it is all a political drama and a game of one-upmanship. They met Union HRD Minister Pallam Raju in New Delhi to claim that the states judicial inquiry was an eyewash. They are now claiming credit for getting a fact-finding Central team to Punjab, he said.
The chief minister had taken a very serious view of the matter and entrusted the probe to a former high court judge. He has not even started the inquiry and the Centre has sent its own team. The Congress can continue with its drama,our inquiry commission will continue its work, Cheema added.
Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar,who had led a delegation of Punjab Congress MLAs and senior leaders to meet Raju in New Delhi on June 6,rubbished charges of breach of decorum. Sarv Siksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhmik Siksha Abhiyan are Central schemes and the Union ministry has every right to look into flaws and loopholes in the system that can lead to what has happened in Punjab, he said.
Jakhar added: The state has the power to finalise the
content of books and the procurement process for school material but Punjab is a model case where discretion of the state has been exercised in such a way that content of library books being supplied to schoolchildren was highly obscene and science kits were overpriced. If this is happening in Punjab,the Centre has every reason to believe it could happen elsewhere and try to plug loopholes. Instead of worrying about a Central team probing the matter,the state should welcome it.
The Opposition,however,admitted that the Central team can only submit its report on the alleged irregularities and not recommend action. We demanded a Central inquiry to expose the level where corruption was taking place. The Union ministry can only recommend action to the state government, said Jakhar.
Meanwhile,a delegation of the state Congress led by spokesman Sukhpal Khaira met the Central team headed by Associate Professor Ranjana Arora of NCERTs secondary school department and submitted a memorandum.
It demanded a stringent,time-bound and criminal action against state Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka and officials,who are his accomplices and trying to shield him by concealing facts. The memorandum added that the chief minister has buckled under public pressure and ordered a farcical judicial inquiry by a retired high court judge who has very close links with the education minister.
With copies of orders attached,the memorandum also gave details on how norms were subverted during purchase of library books,science kits and map masters.