A day after a Mohali court granted bail to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Dyal Singh Kolianwali, a close aide of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in a disproportionate assets case due to delay by Vigilance Bureau in presenting the challan to the court, the issue rocked Punjab Cabinet meeting on Sunday and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh assured the Cabinet that he would get the delay inquired into.
The issue was raised by Cooperatives Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa soon after Cabinet meeting started. He is learnt to have said that it was shocking that the Vigilance Bureau did not present the challan in the case within 60 days of Kolianwali’s arrest, which led to the court granting him bail. He is also learnt to have said that such developments were damaging for the party as they lend credence to belief that Akalis had a tacit understanding with the Congress. Besides, it was an embarrassment for the government.
Since the Chief Minister also is the Home Minister of the state, the Vigilance Bureau comes under him. The VB had booked Kolianwali on July 1 for amassing wealth not proportionate to his sources of income. Kolianwali had managed to give the state police a slip and proceedings were on to declare him a proclaimed offender till the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail in December last year and asked him to surrender within a week. He then surrendered on December 14 and was lodged in Nabha jail ever since.
Kolianwali, who started his political career as a village sarpanch became one of the most influential leaders of Lambi, the constituency of senior Badal. When Amarinder threw his hat in the ring to contest Assembly election from Lambi in 2017, in his first rally he had warned Kolianwali not to scare away Congress workers.
With this background, the VB inaction is a cause of resentment in Congress. The fact that an aide of Amarinder is considered very close to a functionary of Vigilance Bureau adds fuel to the fire, said a Congress leader.
When VB has inquired into Kolianwali’s assets during the period between 2009 and 2014, when he was holding key posts in the government, it found he had a total income of Rs 2.39 crore. During the check period, accused had allegedly spent Rs 4.10 crore on various moveable and immoveable properties, including other expenditures, which was more than 70 per cent of his actual earning. He is a former member of the Punjab Subordinate Service Selection Board (PSSSB) and former chairman of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation.
He is also a defaulter of Punjab Cooperative Bank of Rs one crore. After taking over as Minister of Cooperatives, Randhawa had tightened noose against defaulters. Kolianwali’s family had given a post-dated cheque of Rs 33 lakh which was not honoured. Randhawa is preparing to start proceedings against him in that case also.