Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Khaira, on Tuesday said that notwithstanding the resignation of Irrigation and Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, he has sought a meeting with the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and will lead an AAP delegation to demand a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (I-T) department into the Rana’s financial dealings.
Addressing a press conference, Khaira said: “It is highly imperative that this man be dropped without delay. It is testing times for Rahul Gandhi, who has recently become the Congress president and we wish to see if he will act against a tainted minister in his party’s government in the state,” he said.
Khaira said that even if Rana’s resignation is accepted this would not end his fight against corruption in the Congress government. “I have asked for time from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for tomorrow or day after tomorrow. We will demand an ED inquiry into Rana’s affairs and also ask for directions to I-T department to probe the banking fraud done by him in a land deal,” he said.
The Leader of Opposition claimed that Congress high command was seized of all corrupt deeds of the minister despite the fact that he was being shielded by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. “My information is that Amarinder had been categorically told that Cabinet expansion in the state will take place only if Rana Gurjit is dropped. This is a dishonourable exit of a minister from the Cabinet and not a resignation,” Khaira said.
Terming the sand mining scam as just the tip of the iceberg, Khaira said that he will shortly file a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking CBI probe into it.
Terming the Justice Narang commission, set up to probe the allegations of irregularities in the sand mine auction, to be “bogus”, Khaira alleged that it had been set up with the consent of Rana Gurjit Singh. “We therefore had rejected the commission. Yet in the course of his inquiry Narang inadvertently made some disclosures which led the trail to the minister’s companies,” he said. Referring to The Indian Express report on investment made by irrigation contractor Gurinder Singh, who is facing as vigilance probe, in the sand mine auction, Khaira said that there must be more such investors who have not been revealed by Narang in his report. “This must be investigated,” he said.
Khaira demanded an investigation into the acquisition of land in Seonk village near Chandigarh which was registered in the name of Rana’s family members after becoming a minister. “This could not have taken place as per rules,” he said
When asked why he was not resigning from the position of LOP on moral grounds as Rana Gurjit had done as he was facing summons for a trial from the court on drugs smuggling charges, Khaira said that the audio recording released by Lok Insaaf Party leaders had shown that he was being framed. “This post means nothing to me. But why should I resign on trumped up charges? Very soon I will reveal how this conspiracy was hatched by a nephew of Rana Gurjit,” he said.
Register criminal case against tainted minister, says SAD
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday demanded registration of a “criminal case” against Irrigation and Power minister Rana Gurjit Singh for “causing loss to the state exchequer”, alleging that his “complicity in the sand mining scam in which sand mines were allotted to his minions had been proven beyond doubt by his resignation”.
In a statement here, senior SAD leader and MP Balwinder Singh Bhundur said the resignation had also proved that the entire process of allocation of sand mines was flawed. “All sand mines allocated to Congress legislators should be cancelled immediately. Action should also be taken against ministers who knew about this crime and kept quiet,” he added.
Bhundur said sit was also clear that the Congress high command had taken the precipitate step of asking for Rana Gurjit’s resignation after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh failed to act in the matter. “Rana Gurjit cannot claim he is resigning on moral grounds. If that was so he should have resigned when his name surfaced in the sand mining scam in which his cook Amit Bahadur successfully bid for an Rs 26 crore sand mine,” Bhunder said.
The Akali leader said it had also been established that Justice J S Narang (retd) commission was formed to “exonerate Rana Gurjit by giving it specific terms of reference”.
“It is clear that the Narang Commission has abysmally failed to do its job. It is now incumbent on the government to ask Justice Narang (retd) to refund the entire money spent from the state exchequer on the bogus inquiry done by him,” Bhunder said.
Claiming that the chain of events had proven that Rana had bid for sand mines through front companies and that these auctions were also allegedly financed by tainted contractor Gurinder Singh, Bhundur said it needed to be investigated why Gurinder, who was arrested in the Rs 1,000 crore irrigation department scam, had invested Rs five crore to fund the sand mines bagged by Rana’s associates.
The Akali leader said the Enforcement Directorate was already probing FERA violations as well as money laundering issues in relation with funds raised by the Rana family abroad by floating global depository receipts. “Now it needs to be investigated for what purpose these receipts were floated. The money trail and source of funds, including benami and hawala transactions involved in the sand mine auctions should also be verified,” he said.