The opposition AAP held a dharna outside the Punjab Assembly complex here today demanding immediate sacking of Irrigation Minister Ranja Gurjit Singh over allegations of impropriety against him. The AAP legislators and other leaders including the party MP Bhagwant Mann, who is also the state unit chief, demanded that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should immediately sack his minister. The AAP leaders termed as an “eyewash” the state government’s decision to order a judicial inquiry to probe the allegations of impropriety against the Irrigation and Power Minister.
The AAP legislators held a meeting in the Vidhan Sabha complex and then they tried to march towards the residence of Amarinder Singh to stage a dharna there on the issue. However, the police stopped them near the barricades set up just outside the Vidhan Sabha complex. They were prevented from marching towards Amarinder’s residence. The AAP leaders including Bhagwant Mann, Sukhpal Khaira and others were later taken into preventive custody by the police as they tried to cross the barricades. Earlier, Khaira told reporters that the “belated inquiry ordered by Amarinder Singh into the mining scandal appears to be a tailor-made exercise to absolve the accused minister”. “Till the time Rana Gurjit Singh continues to be a member of cabinet, the said inquiry can never be free, fair and impartial,” the AAP leader and MLA from Bholath said.
Bhagwant Mann also hit out at the Congress government, alleging that they were following in the footsteps of the previous Akali government. “What is the difference between the previous Akali and the present Congress government, corrupt practices are continuing as before,” Mann alleged. Mann and Phoolka said they will also meet Punjab Governor on this issue. “It is surprising that Rana’s former employee, a cook, who drew a salary of just Rs 11,000, overnight becomes the owner of one of the most expensive sand and gravel mines in the state by bidding a whopping Rs 26.51 crore,” Mann said. “The minister must resign forthwith or he should be dismissed from the cabinet pending inquiry or else the entire exercise would appear to be meaningless and a farce,” he said.
The AAP reminded Congress of its “double standards” as they had vociferously rejected the Justice Jindal Commission to probe the role of the then Education Minister Sikandar Singh Malooka on the grounds that he has not resigned from the cabinet. “The Congress had also staged a ‘dharna’ to pressurise the then Badal government to sack the minister but why different yardsticks now,” Khaira asked. Khaira said that if the minister is not sacked, then the AAP will hold a statewide agitation on the issue. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had yesterday ordered the setting up a one-man judicial commission to probe the allegations against Rana Gurjit Singh. The inquiry will be conducted by Justice (Retd) J S Narang and he would submit his report within one month.