Chandigarh: Aam Aadmi Party legislators held a protest outside the Punjab assembly premises today, demanding resignation of Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh over allegations of “impropriety”.
AAP Member of Parliament Bhagwant Mann, who is also the Punjab AAP unit chief, said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should sack Rana Gurjit Singh immediately.
The AAP legislators said the Punjab government’s move to order a judicial inquiry into allegations of impropriety against the irrigation minister was an “eyewash”.
The AAP legislators first held a meeting at the Vidhan Sabha complex, and then tried to march toward Amarinder Singh’s residence. The police stopped them just outside the Vidhan Sabha.
Police said they took Bhagwant Mann, AAP MLA Sukhpal Khaira and others into preventive custody after they tried to cross barricades. Mr 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 cabinet member, the inquiry can never be free, fair and impartial,” Mr Khaira, AAP MLA from Bholath, said.
Bhagwant Mann said the Punjab Congress government was following in the footsteps of the previous Shiromani Akali Dal government. “What is the difference between the previous Akali and the present Congress government? Corrupt practices are continuing as before,” Mr Mann said.
Mr Mann and AAP MLA HS Phoolka said they will meet the Punjab governor over the matter. “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,” Mr 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,” Mr Mann said.
The AAP leaders said the Congress party had in the past not accepted the Justice AN Jindal Commission to probe the alleged role of former Education Minister Sikandar Singh Malooka on the grounds that he had not resigned from the cabinet.
“The Congress had also staged a ‘dharna’ to put pressure on the then Badal government to sack the minister, but why different yardsticks now?” Mr Khaira said. Mr Khaira said if the minister is not sacked, then the AAP will hold protests across Punjab.
Amarinder Singh had yesterday ordered the setting up a one-man judicial commission to probe the allegations against Rana Gurjit Singh. Justice (Retd) JS Narang will conduct the probe and submit a report within one month.