Even as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s reaction on inquiry report into alleged Rs 63.91 crore Post Matric Scholarship scam is awaited, former Congress minister and chairman of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) has opened a front against his own party MLA from Phagwara B S Dhaliwal and demanded his sacking for his alleged involvement in the scam, failing which it would become difficult for the party to make a comeback.
Mann, who is a former legislator from Phagwara, who is a Dalit leader from Doaba Tehaon having maximum percentage of SCs, has shot off letters to Amarinder and general secretary incharge Harish Rawat, and demanded action against Dhaliwal, who is a former IAS officer and was posted in the Department of Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, where the alleged scam came to the fore.
The departmental secretary, Kripa Shankar Saroj, who had blown the lid off the alleged scam through an official communication to Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, and named the minister, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, for the alleged scam. He had also said that it was learnt that “Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, IAS, was the then director in the department, was having an agenda to enter politics and contest the seat of an MLA”. He had contested the Assembly by-election from there in October last year.
In his letter, Mann stated, “As a devout and loyal soldier of Congress party, I am highly peeved to write this letter to you but being like a father to several thousand SC students I do not have any option except to raise voice against a sin against the community by the sitting MLA. I cannot see anyone butchering the ‘golden career’ of SC students and yet roaming free with a tag of being a Congress MLA.”
He added that this embezzlement was like a “barbaric crime” as it had “murdered in cold blood the bright future of countless SC students”. “Education through this amount could have illuminated many lives of the underprivileged and weaker sections of society.”
The MLA said, “Dhaliwal has not only deceived B R Ambedkar through this dastardly act of minting the money over the career prospects of the students from underprivileged and weaker sections but has also proved that he was totally unfit to remain in Congress party, which has always worked for the well-being and progress of the SC community.”
“This shameful act of an IAS officer (now MLA) who himself hails from SC community is unimaginable and unwarranted. The MLA should be given exemplary punishment so that it acts as a deterrent for others to think several times before indulging in this crime against students of the underprivileged and weaker section,” he has stated.
Mann, who had agreed to leave his constituency for Dhaliwal in by-elections, further wrote: “Had I got even an inkling of this heinous crime of this officer I would have never agreed to leave my claim over Phagwara Assembly segment, represented by me thrice in Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1985, 1992 and 2002, to pave the way for this anti-Dalit officer to become MLA from this reserved seat nurtured by me from last three decades.”
The former minister also wrote, “Ousting this MLA from the party is the only face-saving exercise for the party. Otherwise it will be too difficult for it to survive in all the reserve seats of the state. Keeping in view that SCs constitute more than 40 per cent of population of the state party must oust Dhaliwal from party, else it will be difficult for party to make a comeback. Since we all have nurtured this party with blood, toil and sweat so I am having sleepless nights over the strong repercussions which party will face due to misdeeds of this MLA, who has just joined the party last year to get its ticket. Since we have much time to undo this damage so it’s high time that Dhaliwal must be shown the door.”
Amarinder had ordered an inquiry into the alleged scam and asked the CS to look into it. The CS formed a panel led by IAS officer Jaspal Singh, who submitted his report to the CS on Wednesday.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines