An unnamed epidemic seemed to have gripped associates of Sucha Singh Langah in his segment Dera Baba Nanak just before the polls held in January, and it cost the state exchequer Rs 37 lakh. Before he ended up losing, in the months before imposition of the poll code of conduct in December, the then minister gave the money - Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 per 'patient' - from his discretionary grant to nearly 500 close associates and workers of his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
No utilisation certificate has been submitted to the district administration office for the grants disbursed under the head 'Bimari de Ilaaj layi' (for medical treatment), as per documents procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. No ailment was mentioned by name.
The Congress alleges that it was an indirect bribe to voters.
Officials of the in district administration are now wondering how to manage utilisation certificates of these grants. "The grants were encashed through personal accounts. How can we check whether the person was indeed ill or not?" said an official.
Sources said Langah could have avoided the controversy had he routed the money through the local Red Cross body or paid directly to hospitals.
Quaintly, in the first four years of the previous SAD-BJP government, Langah did not give any such grants. But as elections approached, the number of 'sick' residents increased.
A minister gets Rs 2 crore for his discretionary grants, of which he can spend only 50% in his own segment.
Meanwhile, the Congress is further alleging misuse of grants given to youth clubs. Congress MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said Rs 5 lakh were given to some "favourite" clubs for infrastructure that does not exist to this day.
He demanded an audit of all grants given by Langah.