Congress for Badal’s Dismissal, AAP Wants SC-Monitored SIT
Chandigarh: Just eight months ahead of assembly polls and in the middle of the procurement season, the Shiromani Akali Dal-led Punjab govternment found itself on the backfoot after ET reported that banks would have to make a provision of .₹ 12000 crore after it emerged that foodgrans bought with bank funds appeared to have disappeared from godowns.
The issue snowballed into a major controversy on Friday with both Congress and Aam Admi Party demanding an inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the matter.
An outcome of the meeting on April 18 called by State Bank of India is likely to decide the fate of Punjabi farmers. In case the banks declare the loan by Punjab government as a bad debt, the state food and supplies department, responsible for the procurement, will not be provided with funds any longer. This will push the bankrupt state with a debt burden of .₹ 1.25 lakh crore further into oblivion. Aam Aadmi Party has demanded a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the scandal. AAP national spokesman and in-charge Punjab party affairs Sanjay Singh, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and senior leader Chander Suta Dogra in a joint statement demanded an immediate inquiry.
Sanjay Singh while referring to the ET report, said the government must come clean on how the food stocks were siphoned off.
“SIT should also go into the role of the Badal government, BJP led central government and the banks, who were all aware of the missing food stocks but made no effort to resolve the issue or rescue the situation. Our biggest worry is that if the Badal government has failed to pay the loan to the banks how will it pay the Punjab farmers for their wheat crop whose procurement has already begun in the state,” said Bhagwant Mann. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt. Amarinder said the revelations may just be the proverbial tip of an iceberg as the AkaliBJP government has survived only on deceit and fraud during the last nine year.
“It is a fit case for the dismissal as this government has blatantly cheated and defrauded not only the financial institutions but also the farmers for whom this money was actually meant,” the PCC president said in a statement here on Friday.
The former chief minister said he has always maintained that the government headed by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has been playing fraud with everybody and now it has been revealed that they have even cheated the banks.
“Earlier, we used to think that this money was being mainly squandered in Sangat Darshans, but now it seems to have been embezzled and misappropriated as well,” he remarked, while demanding a thorough investigation into the matter after the dismissal of the government.
Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan will be visiting Rajpur in Punjab to see wheat procurement operations on Monday. The minister who is travelling to north eastern states was not available for comments.
However, government officials in the ministry said, “this is a matter of accounts reconciliation and that they are looking into the issue. ”
Food Corporation of India officials said on Monday, the minister might hold a meeting with officials in Chandigarh to discuss on the issue.
In case the banks declare the loan by Punjab govt as bad debt, the state food and supplies department will not be provided with funds any longer