Plot row: Rupnagar DC panel gives clean chit to Punjab speaker, but tussle on
Tug of war: Rana KP earlier wrote letter to CM seeking Rupnagar DC’s transfer.Updated: Jun 10, 2018 10:41 IST
Caught in controversies, Punjab assembly speaker Rana KP Singh got a major reprieve on Saturday after a probe into allotment of five marla plots to beneficiaries in his native village Khatana found no irregularities.
Rupnagar deputy commissioner (DC) Gurneet Tej had ordered an inquiry following complaints that six of the nine beneficiaries lived in speaker’s property and were “outsiders”. Also, four of the six were members of one family. In a fast-tracked probe — it was completed in less than a week — the four-member panel headed by ADC (development) Amardeep Singh Gujral found the beneficiaries as bonafide residents of the village with all proofs, including ration cards, voter cards, identity cards and Aadhaar cards.
Even before the inquiry report was submitted to the DC last evening, the speaker knew its findings. When contacted on Friday afternoon, Rana said: “Please talk to the ADC. The inquiry report has proved that the families who were allotted the plots have been living in the village for over 10 years and have Aadhaar and voter ID cards. It is a political conspiracy of my opponents to defame me. I have nothing against the DC nor have I complained against her,” he said.
The DC said she ordered the probe as she has to withhold the rule of law. “If there is a complaint, I have to investigate whether there was any procedural deficiency in the allotment. The probe was totally fair,” she said. A committee of the gram panchayat decides the allotments.
Though it may put a lid to the raging controversy, a power tussle is brewing between the speaker and the DC. Rana KP wanted Tej be shunted out over transfer of patwaris last year. In a letter to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who heads the personnel department, Rana had alleged “she was transferring his people out and favouring the opposition parties”.
But the CM, a senior government functionary said, took the line of “no political interference” on administrative issues, and the speaker’s request was not conceded. On matters administrative, CM’s chief principal secretary Suresh Kumar and chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh are the final authority.
String of controversies
Rana’s tryst with controversies is not new. Ahead of the budget session in March, Rana had to face allegations of irregularities in the recruitment of 44 faculty members in Shivalik College of Pharmacy, Nangal. The college comes under the Nangal municipal council. Though 2,500 applicants from across the state had applied for 60 posts in various departments of the college, all 44 selected belonged to Nangal, the assembly seat represented by Rana. Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had ordered a vigilance probe into the recruitment.
During the session, Lok Insaaf Party chief Simarjeet Singh Bains had accused the speaker’s son-in-law of being involved in illegal mining. Rana had dubbed the allegation as baseless and claimed that GM Constructions, his son-in-law’s firm, operated a stone crusher with due permission and registration but his political rival from the BJP, former industry minister Madan Mohan Mittal, had implicated him in a “false case”. It was challenged and the matter is sub judice. Rupnagar is a hotbed of illegal mining and the clampdown ordered by Tej had also raised the hackles of many politicians.
Cutting across party lines
Political opposition to the DC cuts across party lines. Rupnagar MLA Amarjit Singh Sandoa of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had alleged at a press conference last month that the DC is “difficult to approach and never took his phone calls”. The MLA had also claimed to have felt “humiliated” when he went to meet the DC at her office in April. Sandoa was booked last year on charges of molestation by his former landlady. A group of women had also met the DC in this regard.