The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced to make the probe into the multi-crore drug racket its main issue during the upcoming winter session of the Punjab assembly.The Congress Legislature Party, in its meeting held on Tuesday, decided to demand the resignation of Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, whose name has figured in the statements by the accused and their kin before the Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the money laundering angle in the international drug racket.
“We have passed a resolution that in light of the recent allegations against the minister, he should step down to make way for a speedy and fair investigation. The Akali-BJP government is equal partners in the crime and have to be made answerable,” CLP leader Sunil Jakhar said while addressing mediapersons after the meeting.
Breaking the earlier practice of not seeing eye-to-eye with Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, Jakhar endorsed the latter’s demand for probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a judge of the Supreme Court. “The probe should be held by an independent agency in a time-bound manner.
It is no longer question of creditability of allegations, but of this government itself. Majithia belongs to the ruling family and Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion. The Badals are using their influence with union finance minister Arun Jaitley to scuttle the probe and prevent the ED from summoning Majithia. The political interference should be revealed and the guilty brought to book. The CBI is no more under the Congress now but the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. What argument does the government now have for not ordering the probe.The BJP seems to be taking a moral high ground by just seeking the resignation of Avinash Chander who is just a chief parliamentary secretary. Why is it silent on Majithia’s resignation?” Jakhar said.
Asked if this was not a volte-face from his earlier remarks on the minister in the state assembly, Jakhar said he had not given Majithia a clean chit but accused him of a much serious charge of being the “chief patron” of all mafias and crimes. “I still feel that arrested druglord Jagdish Bhola’s statements to the media during his court hearing was stage-managed. Somebody within the establishment (Punjab government) wanted to fix Majithia, but I did not absolve him of anything. He hails from a good family and people from such good families are facing charges of indulging in such things; they should step down on their own till their name is cleared,” he added.
Though the unity of Jakhar and Bajwa signalled that the party was unanimous in its demand for Majithia’s resignation and a CBI probe, former Punjab CM and deputy leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh has so far maintained a stoic silence on the issue.
When contacted, Amarinder said he was not aware of the news reports on Majithia. “I am in Delhi and nothing has appeared here. I will see the reports and get back to you,” he said.
He never did. Amarinder’s silence has added fuel to the allegations by Bajwa’s faction, which claims that the Captain has a “tacit understanding” with deputy CM Sukhbir Badal and Majithia. After the minister was named as “the kingpin” by Bhola in January, Bajwa had moved the Punjab and Haryana high court demanding a CBI probe. He had also written to then union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde. But Amarinder had taken the sting out of Bajwa’s tirade in January by supporting the Punjab Police probe, saying a CBI probe was being demanded by “vested interests” to delay the investigation.
Jakhar said he could not speak on behalf of Amarinder but his party was unanimous in its demand for both the resignation of Majithia and a fair probe by a central agency such as the CBI or a Supreme Court judge.