Following the expose of scam by Hindustan Times, related to the embezzlement of central and state grants for public welfare, Punjab Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes welfare minister Gulzar Singh Ranike on Sunday resigned from his post on moral grounds.
HT in a series of reports has exposed how grants from his discretionary funds, rural development fund and even central government sponsored grants for Border Area Development programme has been embezzled.
Ranike represents the border assembly seat of Attari in Amritsar district, which is famous for the land border joint check post on the international border between India and Pakistan.
Ranike, who also holds charge of animal husbandry, fisheries, and dairy development portfolios, submitted his resignation to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. Badal forwarded the resignation to governor Shivraj Patil for acceptance.
A spokesperson of the chief minister's office said that Ranike personally met chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in view of recent media reports regarding the case registered against his former personal assistant for alleged involvement in the misappropriation of public funds disbursement and voluntarily submitted his resignation on moral grounds Sunday morning.
His resignation follows the move by the chief minister to hand over the probe into the corruption scam of discretionary funds to the state vigilance bureau. CM had ordered for VB probe after HT exposed that how police has not taken action in scam in which FIR was registered in May 2011.
Ranike's aide Sarbhdyal Singh has been accused of opening a number of bank accounts in 2011 in the name of dummy village sarpanches. He encashed an amount of Rs 1.15 crore through these accounts later. However, the scam amount has now touched to Rs 2.50 crore.
Sarabdyal is on the run ever since the scam was reported by the media.
"Ranike 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," the spokesperson said.
Ranike is the third minister in the Badal government, which came back to power for a second consecutive term in March this year, to be forced to resign from his post.
Earlier, agriculture minister Tota Singh was forced to resign May this year after being found guilty by a vigilance court in Mohali in a case of misuse of official machinery. Rural water supply and sanitation and defence services minister Jagir Kaur was convicted in murder case of her daughter by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Patiala March this year, forcing her to quit from her post.
However, leader of opposition Sunil Jhakar, said: "It's a tip of iceberg. It's a much bigger scam. We will soon meet the union home minister to demand a full fledged CBI probe into entire the Border Area Development scam, which was embezzled by Akalis".