The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today accused Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of attempting to give clean chit to his his cabinet colleague Rana Gurjit Singh by appointing the minister’s “personal favourite” to head the one man commission. Facing heat over the allegation of allotment of mining contracts to the former staff of Rana, Amarinder had yesterday ordered a judicial probe into the alleged mining bidding in the state. The inquiry has been handed over to Justice (Retd) J S Narang, who would submit his report within one month. In a statement here, SAD MP and secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa claimed Rana enjoyed “close relations” with Justice Narang.
“It is now clear that Rana called on Amarinder yesterday to suggest an appointment of a friendly commission which would exonerate him of the charges of corruption, nepotism and benaami transactions in acquisition of sand and gravel mines through e-auction recently,” he said. The Akali leader said Rana was digging his own grave by putting up new front men to escape the long arm of the law.
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Earlier, Rana had put up his cook Amit Bahadur who successfully bid Rs 26 crore for a sand mine besides three other employees who together made bids of Rs 50 crore, he alleged. Now Rana has put up the name of a son of a ‘businessman friend’ – Capt J S Randhawa and claimed that Randhawa’s companies put up the money for the bids and that his cook and employees were working partners only in these companies, he alleged.
He said this was unbelievable because of the sheer fact that Capt Randhawa lived in Rana’s house. “In such a situation how can anyone believe Rana’s contentions? This is a clear case of benaami transactions. What needs to be probed is the source of the money, the money trail and verification of hawala transactions if any. All these are specialised jobs which only the Enforcement Directorate (ED) or Income Tax authorities are equipped to do”, he added.
Dhindsa said recent revelations had also made it clear that this was not the first time that Rana had used his Nepalese cook to facilitate benaami transactions. “The cook Amit Bahadur, who has Rs 4,000 in his current account, is a director of three companies one of whom even shares the same email address as that of a company of Rana Gurjit. Even the addresses of these companies are not genuine with one of them shown to be housed in a kid’s show room in Chandigarh. All this proves beyond reasonable doubt that Rana is in a habit of using Amit Bahadur as a front man for dubious deals,” he alleged.
Stating that it was a mystery why Capt Amarinder had not sacked Rana immediately despite the “wealth of evidence available against him”, Dhindsa said Amarinder was answerable to the people and should not let his personal ties with Rana, including his dependence of him when in the opposition, to come in the way of ensuring justice in the case. “If the chief minister still does not proceed against Rana immediately it will be surmised that he is under pressure from the minister and incapable of providing clean and transparent governance as promised by him,” Dhindsa said.