Over 30 MLAs of the ruling Congress party are engaged in sand mining directly or indirectly, according to an internal report submitted by the sand mining department to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, The Indian Express has learnt. The report is being discussed by the party leadership in the state as the Chief Minister considers expanding his cabinet, and various MLAs are staking competing claims to a ministerial berth. Earlier this month, Amarinder had to drop Rana Gurjit Singh from the Cabinet after mounting evidence of his links to three successful bids for sand mines in auctions last May. Rana Gurjit held power and irrigation portfolios.
Party sources said a long list of MLAs who are linked to the sand mining business came up for discussion when the Chief minister, PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar, AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab Asha Kumari and AICC secretary Harish Choudhary met AICC president Rahul Gandhi recently.
Rahul, said the sources, asked Amarinder to ensure that the party’s representatives did not attract the same kind of allegations as the predecessor SAD-BJP government. Several Akali leaders were discredited by Congress for engaging in illegal sand mining when in power.
Sources said the MLAs whose names figured in the list were mainly from the Malwa and Majha regions. The list includes elected representatives from the districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Moga, Ropar, Nawanshahar, Pathankot and Gurdaspur.
Sources said since the issue had already reached the ears of the high command, the chances of several aspirants for cabinet berths would be affected.
Jakhar said he was not aware of any such list. “Congress will keep its promise of curbing any illegal activity in sand mining business. The sand prices have actually fallen down. That is an achievement. It is a reflection of the things to follow.” The cabinet is likely to be expanded after the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation election results on February 26.