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Posted at: Dec 17, 2016, 1:31 AM; last updated: Dec 17, 2016, 1:31 AM (IST)

Sarpanch returns cheque to MLA

Kulwinder Sandhu

Tribune News Service

Moga, December 16

Sitting Akali MLA of Jagraon SR Kaler, who is also the party nominee from Nihalsinghwala (reserved) constituency, faced an embarrassing situation when Jasdeep Singh Garry, a young sarpanch of Dhudike, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, returned a cheque for Rs 5 lakh to him. This happened during a party function at Badhni Kalan town in Moga district earlier this week. The cheque was meant for rural development works in the village.

Senior Akali leader and Agriculture Minister Tota Singh inaugurated the election office of Kaler at Badhni Kalan on Wednesday, after which the cheques worth Rs 7 crore were distributed to 100 village panchayats by the MLA at the office.

However, when Kaler handed over the cheque to Garry, it was returned by him with folded hands.

The sarpanch alleged that the SAD president and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal had promised to give a grant of Rs 12 lakh to his village for various development works, but the local leadership of the Akali Dal had influenced upon the district administration to trim down the grant.

He alleged that a sum of Rs 7 lakh had been diverted by the local Akali leadership for the youth club of the village.

“The total grant must have been given to the village panchayat as it is the prerogative of the panchayat to decide on how to spend the grant, based on the priority of development works,” he said.

The aggrieved sarpanch left the venue thereafter. Kaler claimed that no disparity was done in the distribution of cheques.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and former minister Malti Thapar alleged that the Akali leadership was hurriedly distributing crores of rupees to village panchayats in the Moga district to lure the electorate. The rural development grants were also being diverted to the youth clubs and other organisations to secure votes, she alleged.

PPCC secretary Ravinder Singh Grewal has demanded a CBI probe into the diversion of rural development grants to lure voters.

“The SAD and BJP are misusing their powers and using public money to secure votes,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that minister Tota Singh, his son Barjinder Singh Brar and SAD district president Tirath Singh Mahla were hurriedly distributing rural development grants these days in Dharamkot, Moga and Baghapurana assembly constituencies, respectively.

Sources said grants worth Rs 20 crore had been distributed to the village panchayats in Moga district in the last few weeks. However, no official was willing to confirm it.

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