Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa on Friday demanded that chief minister Parkash Singh Badal dismiss education minister Sikander Singh Maluka in view of the latter's indictment by the inquiry team set up by the Centre to probe the purchase of library books and science kits.
Bajwa said the central probe team had found Maluka guilty of misappropriation of funds given under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
"The Punjab Congress had highlighted the misappropriation of central funds by the education minister. Our stand has been vindicated," Bajwa added.
"If Maluka has any morality left in him, he should voluntarily step down from his post," the PPCC president added.
Bajwa said the commission of inquiry ordered by Badal to probe charges against Maluka was a sham, adding that the one-man commission had not started functioning even after two months of the scam being exposed.
He said the central probe panel had found that there was a loss of Rs 41.68 lakh in funds meant for the purchase of textbooks and science kits, of which Rs 39.33 lakh were paid to a private book dealer, namely Friends Enterprises, in an unauthorised manner. The books supplied by the dealer were neither age-appropriate nor contained reading material fit for elementary-level students, he added.
The PPCC president said Maluka was also guilty of harassing director general of school education (DGSE) Kahan Singh Pannu. "Pannu is respected as an honest officer who opposed Maluka's misdeeds and acted as a whistleblower to blow the lid off the book scam," Bajwa remarked.