M A I N   N E W S

SAD, BJP demand Capt’s resignation
Tribune News Service

Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, address a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.
Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, address a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.
— Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, December 29
Demanding the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on “moral grounds”, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP today sought a CBI probe into the purported “hawala transactions” allegedly involving his son Ranainder Singh.

Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal, who met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee here late this evening to demand a probe into the alleged scandal by central agencies like CBI or Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), told newspersons that the Punjab Chief Minister had no moral right to continue in office in the wake of the “serious allegations”.

During his half-an-hour meeting, Mr Badal, who was accompanied by his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, said he had urged Mr Vajpayee to conduct a probe through Central agencies as the alleged scandal related to “money laundering”, which does not fall under the purview of the state government agencies, like the Vigilance Bureau.

Earlier, addressing a Press conference here, Mr Badal said “The scandal, which involved hawala transactions worth Rs 5 crore, is only a small part. If proper inquiry is conducted huge transactions are expected to come to light.”

He also distributed a written statement along with a set of papers comprising photocopies of some documents and news reports pertaining to the alleged transaction of $ 1,00,000 on behalf of Ranainder Singh.

Claiming that the communication revealing the “hawala transactions” had clearly “indicated the involvement of Capt Amarinder Singh’s son in the racket”, the SAD chief stated that “the scandal could run into hundreds of crores.”

The BJP, on the other hand, said the scandal had exposed “the corrupt face of the Congress”.

“If Capt Amarinder Singh doesn’t resign on his own, it is imperative on the Congress High Command to ask him to step down,” BJP’s additional spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told newspersons here.

Mr Javadekar produced a photocopy of an August 12, 2003 letter showing that one J E C Grange, who is CEO of SMX Global Services Technologies Services Ltd had received one $ 1 lakh on behalf of Ranainder Singh, consultant/ partner of Punjab Intranet Company.

The spokesperson said the letter was addressed to Mr Freeke of Esquare Limited, Channel Islands and also clarified that it was awaiting balance remittance of $ 9 lakh.

He said the letter had alleged that Mr Freeke used to stay in the Chief Minister’s house whenever he visited the country.


Cong dissidents demand CBI probe
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Punjab Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal addresses a meeting of dissidents at the samadhi of late Chief Minister Beant Singh in Sector 42, Chandigarh
Punjab Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal addresses a meeting of dissidents at the samadhi of late Chief Minister Beant Singh in Sector 42, Chandigarh, on Monday. Also seen in the picture is Mrs Jaswant Kaur. — Tribune photo by Pawan Sharma

Chandigarh, December 29
Dissidents fired another salvo at the Chief (Home) Minister as well as the Home Secretary in the Tej Parkash episode, besides demanding a CBI inquiry or an inquiry by a retired High Court judge in the Intranet company hawala transaction case.

After taking a pledge at the Sector 42 Beant Singh Memorial here this afternoon to “fight unitedly any repressive action against any of the dissident legislators or members of their families”, the dissidents also expressed their solidarity with the late Chief Minister Beant Singh’s family in the presence of his widow, Jaswant Kaur.

Interestingly, 28 MLAs, a former MP, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, a former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Mr Virender Kataria, and the general secretary of the PPCC, Mr Parminder Singh, were present at the pledge taking ceremony. The pledge was administered by Higher Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar.

The dissidents wanted that since the present government was voted to power on the issue of weeding out corruption from the state, it would be in the larger interest of the party to either refer the case pertaining to the Intranet company in which the son of the Chief Minister had been named or the Governor be asked to appoint a retired judge to hold a thorough inquiry.

Talking to newsmen after the brief but solemn ceremony at the memorial, the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said that the dissidents, who have been gaining strength gradually, would wait and watch for their next action.

Late in the evening, the agenda for the Council of Ministers’ meeting was circulated. Grant of pension to the sister of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, absorption of Special Police Officers as constables in the Punjab police and levying of toll tax on various roads and bridges of the state were the main items on the agenda.

When asked about their decision to quit their official positions, including the Council of Ministers, the dissidents said that they had raised a bigger issue by holding both the Home Minister and the Home Secretary responsible for the present mess. “We will wait for the Chief Secretary to submit his report this evening,” they said.

“Since the Home Minister and the Home Secretary are directly responsible for the embarrassment caused to Transport Minister Tej Parkash Singh by giving credence to a baseless and motivated complaint against him, we want that both should go. “An attempt has been made to malign the name of Shaheed Beant Singh’s family after all temptations to woo it away from the dissidents group failed.

They first offered the Cabinet minister status to Mrs Jaswant Kaur, widow of Mr Beant Singh, which the family refused.

Now they have resorted to strong-arm tactics by threatening to implicate him in a corruption case. Is it the way to treat the family which is known for its integrity, patriotism and uprightness?

“After me, similar treatment has been meted out to Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, Mr Tript Rajinder Singh, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Ms Razia Sultan, Mr Kathunangal and others. In all such cases, the Chief Minister either expressed his ignorance or whatever action was taken was later reversed,” said Mrs Bhattal.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh said this action on the part of the Home Department as well as the Vigilance Bureau had not only tried to put a question mark on his political career but has also unnecessarily dragged the name of the family in an unnecessary and unsavoury controversy.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang said that the entire group was solidly behind Mr Tej Parkash Singh on the issue and the fight would continue until the Beant Singh family was satisfied. 


CS report today: CM

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the Council of Ministers would meet as scheduled on Tuesday at 11.30 a.m.

Talking to The Tribune, he hoped that dissidents would join and participate in the meeting.

Asked about the enquiry report in the Transport Minister’s case, the Chief Minister said since he had given the Chief Secretary three days to submit his report, it had been delayed by a day because of Sunday yesterday. Mr Jai Singh Gill has promised to submit his report tomorrow which will be discussed after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, he added.


BJP also seeks inquiry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Punjab BJP has demand a CBI inquiry into the ''hawala'' transactions involving the Chief Minister's son, Ranainder Singh, who is said to be a consultant in the setting up of Punjab Intranet Company in which $ 100,000 are believed to have been already paid to a foreign company on his behalf.

This demand has been made in a communication to the Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, by the BJP president, Mr Avinash Khanna, according to a party spokesperson.


Congress defends Amarinder’s son
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The senior vice-president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Pawan Dewan, today claimed that the name of Mr Raninder Singh, son of Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh was being deliberately dragged into the controversy in order to negate the impact of his father’s anti-corruption drive.

In a statement here today, Mr Dewan said: “It appears to be similar to the St Kits scandal when the name of Mr Ajay Singh, son of Mr V.P. Singh, was dragged into a similar controversy”.

He said these allegations would not stand scrutiny like the St Kits forgery. He said the rank and file in the Congress was with the Chief Minister. 

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