Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, May 2
A day after being accused of “sexual misconduct” and video clippings of the alleged act being submitted to the Governor by Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira, Food and Supply minister Lal Chand Kataruchak went incommunicado. However, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has stood by his minister.
“We have not received any purported video of Kataruchak,” he said. Mann was responding to queries about allegations levelled by Khaira and later reiterated by BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa. “Khaira has a habit of making baseless allegations to stay in the limelight and draw political mileage,” said the CM. He also slammed Khaira for falsely accusing Kataruchak of employing his close aides and relatives in his official staff. “Our political opponents are worried about the outcome of the Jalandhar bypoll and have no other issue to talk about.”
Asked if Sirsa’s tweet about the resignation of Kataruchak was true, Mann denied it.
Meanwhile, the corridors of power were abuzz with speculation about the fate of the minister in light of the controversy. The minister did not attend his office today.
While Khaira had yesterday submitted two video clippings to Governor Banwarilal Purohit and urged him to verify the authenticity of alleged “sexual misconduct” by an AAP minister, Sirsa had named Kataruchak in his tweet as being the minister in the video clippings. Incidentally, sources in Raj Bhawan have confirmed to The Tribune that video clippings have been submitted to the Chandigarh DGP, for verification of its contents and its authenticity.
While Chandigarh DGP Praveer Ranjan was unavailable for comments, others down the chain of command refused to comment on the issue, or on the further course of investigation.
Meanwhile, defending his colleague, the CM said while Khaira had been making allegations against Kataruchak, he should tell the media that if he (Kataruchak) was indulging in any impropriety, the why did Khaira and his political alliance (PDA) field Kataruchak in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
Khaira has a habit of making baseless allegations to stay in the limelight and draw political mileage. Our opponents are worried about the outcome of the Jalandhar bypoll and have no other issue to talk about. — Bhagwant Mann, Chief Minister
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