Rip-off exposed, Punjab cabinet minister Ranike resigns | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Jul 21, 2017-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Rip-off exposed, Punjab cabinet minister Ranike resigns

After sustained pressure over embezzlement of government grants in his constituency Attari, Punjab's SC/BC welfare minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Gulzar Singh Ranike on Sunday resigned from the cabinet citing "moral grounds". HT had exposed the scam - dubbed the "Ranike rip-off" -- first in a three-part series of reports from August 25 to 27, and then followed it up from September 11 to 13 with another series that laid bare the ramifications and possible extent of the scam, which is so far believed to be worth at least Rs 2.6 crore.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 16, 2012 23:33 IST
Vishal Rambani

After sustained pressure over embezzlement of government grants in his constituency Attari, Punjab's SC/BC welfare minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Gulzar Singh Ranike on Sunday resigned from the cabinet citing "moral grounds". This is the third major jolt for the SAD-BJP regime that was re-elected merely six months ago, as two senior Akali leaders have already been forced to leave the Parkash Singh Badal cabinet due to convictions by court.

HT had exposed the scam - dubbed the "Ranike rip-off" -- first in a three-part series of reports from August 25 to 27, and then followed it up from September 11 to 13 with another series that laid bare the ramifications and possible extent of the scam, which is so far believed to be worth at least Rs 2.6 crore.

The minister's son or PA Sarbhdyal Singh, who is on the run, collected the grants cheques from the local block development and panchayat office (BDPO), and encashed them via bogus bank accounts opened in the names of beneficiaries from villages of Attari segment in Amritsar district. Attari is known for the joint checkpost on the border between India and Pakistan.

Ranike, who also held the charge of animal husbandry, fisheries and dairy development, submitted his resignation in person to chief minister Badal, who had ordered a vigilance inquiry after HT reported that FIRs registered in the matter were gathering dust. The resignation has been sent to governor Shivraj Patil for acceptance.

A spokesman of the CM office said Ranike met Badal "in view of recent media reports regarding the case registered against his former personal assistant" and "urged the chief minister to accept his resignation immediately to uphold the highest moral ethics in politics, as well to maintain the dignity of the office held by him, so as to enable the ongoing inquiry by the vigilance bureau to proceed in a free, transparent and impartial manner without casting any aspersions".

Badal's agriculture minister Tota Singh was forced to resign in May this year after being handed a year's prison sentence by a Mohali vigilance court for misuse of official machinery. Rural water supply and sanitation minister Bibi Jagir Kaur was sentenced to five years' jail by a Patiala CBI court for forcible miscarriage of her daughter, who died later. While Tota Singh is on bail, Bibi remains in jail.

Leader of opposition Sunil Jhakar welcomed Ranike's resignation. "But our second demand of CBI probe is still pending," said the Congress leader. "This is just the tip of the iceberg. It's a much bigger scam. We will soon meet the union home minister to demand a probe."

Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra took a dig at Ranike: "How can he say that he resigned on 'moral grounds'? Where were his morals for the past 16 months, ever since the first FIR was registered for the embezzlement."