Amid a political uproar over alleged scam in the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday said he had asked the Chief Secretary to conduct a thorough probe into the case to take it to a logical conclusion.
Making it clear that nobody found guilty of complicity in the alleged scholarship scam would be spared, the CM said the Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan will look into all aspects of the case, and anyone found involved, whatever his position within or outside the government, would be punished in accordance with the legal provisions.
It has been alleged that part of funds under the scheme have been either allegedly embezzled or distributed in arbitrary manner by the state’s Directorate of Social Justice.
In a report submitted to the Chief Secretary on August 21, Additional Chief Secretary, Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, Kripa Shankar Saroj had alleged Cabinet Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot’s involvement in the scam. Saroj had stated, “Under the PMS-SC scheme the GOI sent Rs 303 crore to Punjab during February-March 2019. Though the Directorate of Social Justice withdrew Rs 248 crore from the treasury, however, the department had then distributed this sum in an arbitrary manner. Significantly, records pertaining to Rs 39 crore are missing. Either this sum has been embezzled or paid to some ghost institutions.”
The report had added: “Interestingly, an amount of Rs 16.91 crore was paid to such institutions against which the audit team had recommended a recovery of Rs 8 crore, thus costing the state exchequer Rs 24.91 crore. If the amount of recoveries, which the audit team had concluded, are added to this Rs 16.91 crore, then these officials had cost the exchequer to the tune of Rs 24.91 crore. The minister and his team of officers worked in tandem.”
Speaking on the allegations, Amarinder Saturday said nobody could be put on the mat without a fair probe and proper inquiry, which Cabinet Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot also deserved. “There is rule of law, which needs to be followed,” said the Chief Minister, adding that he would not succumb to Opposition trial in the case.
Reminds Bajwa of Bitumen scam
The CM also lashed out at Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa for demanding resignation of Dharamsot. He ridiculed Bajwa for “trying to rake in political moolah” over the alleged Rs 55.71-crore scholarship scam.
Amarider said that had he believed in following “jungle raj”, he would have sacked Bajwa back in 2002-2007 when the then PWD minister was under scanner in the bitumen scam and some other cases.
He said the Rajya Sabha member was behaving like an Opposition leader whose only agenda was to attack the government on any and every issue. “Clearly, Bajwa has a hidden agenda. His slew of recent anti-party actions has exposed his intent to undermine the Congress in Punjab,” Amarinder said, adding the MP’s actions were highly questionable and not a sign of a loyal party member.
“While constructive criticism within the party or government forum is always welcome, repeatedly attacking your own party and government in media and public platforms could not be construed as anything but an anti-party act,” said the CM.
Amarinder recalled that Bajwa had faced serious accusations and allegations as PWD minister between 2002 and 2007, including those relating to irregularities in the purchase of bitumen worth crores of rupees. The Opposition wanted him sacked, Amarinder said adding that as in Bajwa’s case then, he would not let unsubstantiated and unproved allegations to dictate his actions in the present case too.
‘AAP behaving like rogue party’
The Chief Minister also lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for behaving like a rogue party by baying for Dharamsot’s blood without a proper inquiry.
“Are we living in a state of anarchy, with no rule of law?” Amarinder asked in a statement reacting strongly to the completely unwarranted and uncalled demand of AAP and LIP MLAs, who had created a din in the Vidhan Sabha over the issue Thursday.
“Do you really expect me to take action without a proper inquiry against my own minister when I have not done so even against many Opposition leaders,” asked the Chief Minister, pointing out that Dharamsot has already said he is ready to face any inquiry in the matter.
“But let me tell you, elections are won by hard work and not by making a lot of unnecessary noise,” he warned AAP and other opposition parties.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines