Sunday, December 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

High command looks into Bhattal case
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
The Congress high-command is believed to be looking into the “haste” shown by the Amarinder government in Punjab in filing challan in the embezzlement case relating to former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau yesterday filed a challan against Mrs Bhattal, Punjab Agriculture Minister, in a Chandigarh court. The challan was filed within three days of the reprieve Mrs Bhattal got following orders of the court of Special Judge, Bathinda, that it had no jurisdiction to take cognisance of the embezzlement case against her.

Mrs Bhattal, who has conveyed her displeasure to some senior party leaders, is expected to come to the Capital next week to convey her viewpoint. Punjab PCC chief H S Hanspal today met AICC general secretary Mohsina Kidwai on the issue. Mr G.S. Sodhi, political secretary to the Chief Minister, also met Mrs Kidwai.

Sources said the state government’s decision could have a political fallout as demands would be made by the political rivals for Mrs Bhattal’s resignation. Drive against corruption had been the main focus of the Amarinder government and with the state Vigilance Bureau having filed challan against one of the Cabinet ministers, the state government might be hard put to justify her continuance.

The sources said officials close to the Chief Minister today conveyed to Mrs Kidwai the “inevitability’’ of filing the challan against Mrs Bhattal following “directions’’ of the court.

But more than the issue of filing the challan, its timing could cause controversy for the Amarinder government. The issue, AICC leaders feel, could have been amicably resolved in consultation with the high command leaders.

Meanwhile, the Congress has assigned ministers and MLAs from Punjab crucial duties for the Gujarat Assembly elections.

Eleven ministers and 20 MLAs from the state have been assigned 11 constituencies, including the key seats of Maninagar and Ellisbridge. While Chief Minister Narinder Modi is contesting from Maninagar, MLA and BJP strongman Haren Pandya was denied the Ellisbridge seat apparently on the advice of Mr Modi. Punjab PWD Minister Pratap Singh Bajwa has been given the Maninagar seat.

Former Haryana Revenue Minister Nirmal Singh is being deputed to the key seat of Godhra.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, whose programme is being finalised in consultation with AICC general secretary Kamal Nath, is likely to campaign in Gujarat for two days. Mr Hanspal would also accompany the Chief Minister.

Mr Hanspal today also discussed with Mrs Kidwai the names of secretaries to be appointed to the PCC.

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