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Rana Gurjit’s resignation accepted, says Capt Amarinder after meeting Rahul Gandhi

Gurjit Singh has been in the eye of a storm from the start for “conflict of interest”. Owner of distilleries and sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, he was the richest candidate in the fray.

punjab Updated: Jan 18, 2018 19:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rana Gurjit,Rana Gurjit’s resignation,Capt Amarinder
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder talking to the media in Delhi on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

The much-controversial stint of Rana Gurjit Singh as Punjab’s power and irrigation minister has ended in just 10 months of the Congress government.

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh told reporters after his meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi at New Delhi on Thursday that Rana’s resignation has been accepted.

It was the first issue the CM brought on the table in the meeting, which was also attended by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs, Asha Kumari, and Harish Chaudhary.

“Rahul has made his stand on corruption clear. The party cannot be even perceived to be overlooking it,” Jakhar said after the meeting.

The feedback from state leaders and party’s central nominees to Rahul was that the allegations against Rana in sand mining auctions followed by summons to his son by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for raising funds abroad without mandatory permissions were damaging the party’s image.

Rana’s fate had been sealed even before the meeting. But the CM chose not to take a call on it for two weeks after Rana submitted his resignation (on January 4) to show he stood by his confidant. On the other hand, by getting Rahul’s stamp on it, the party has also tried to reinforce the authority of its new chief.

In a statement, the CM said Rana has cited in his resignation that though he had not been associated with his family business for the past 10 years, the controversy surrounding it in recent months had left him with no option but to tender his resignation in the interest of his party.

He did not want the issue to mar the good work done by the Congress government in Punjab and had, in the bigger interest of his party and government, chosen to step down.

Asked about the cabinet expansion, the CM said it would be done after the Ludhiana municipal council elections. “The new ministers will be a mix of youth and experience, with merit as the only criteria,” he said.

The meeting also discussed party’s prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the CM said the state unit of the Congress will be restructured soon in view of it. The implementation of party’s poll promises such as farm debt waiver and drive against drugs were also discussed.

NO FACES WITH ‘CONFLICT OF INTEREST’ IN CABINET

The Congress government has yet to fulfil its poll promise of introducing a ‘conflict of interest’ norm though it was among the decisions cleared in its first cabinet meeting in March last year.

After that the CM declared that it will only apply to ministers, not MLAs. But the embarrassment from Rana’s ouster is likely to bring an unsaid rule whenever the CM expands his cabinet — no conflict of interest. With many MLAs, young and old-timers, vying for the nine vacant slots, the CM will be under pressure to ensure he brings in those with a “clean image”.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 13:15 IST