Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

‘I re­signed on moral grounds; will Khaira also quit?’

- Navneet Sharma navneet­sharma@hin­dus­tan­times.com

CHANDI­GARH : Power and ir­ri­ga­tion min­is­ter Rana 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. Within days of the Congress form­ing the gov­ern­ment, he faced al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety for us­ing “front­men” to bid for sand mines in the state, but he brazened it out. Ques­tions were raised over his fam­ily’s power busi­ness. The lat­est con­tro­versy is about the en­force­ment direc­torate’s (ED) sum­mons to his son, Rana In­der Par­tap Singh, in con­nec­tion with rais­ing funds abroad al­legedly with­out the manda­tory ap­proval. HT spoke to Rana Gur­jit about his res­ig­na­tion, his bête noire and the rum­blings within the Congress. Ex­cerpts:

You kept say­ing that the Jus­tice JS Narang Com­mis­sion has given you a clean chit in the sand mine con­tro­versy. What made you re­sign?

The rea­son is sim­ple. I am in pol­i­tics be­cause of (chief min­is­ter) Capt Amarinder Singh. And I am a true Con­gress­man. There was a smear cam­paign be­ing run against me. Daily (AAP leader) Sukh­pal Khaira was giv­ing a state­ment against the gov­ern­ment. Though I have been given a clean chit, it did not end. I, there­fore, of­fered my res­ig­na­tion on moral grounds about a week ago.

What was the fi­nal trig­ger?

Af­ter sand mines, they have now started rais­ing the is­sue of the ED sum­mons. It was a pub­lic is­sue. The ED has the right to ques­tion any­one. When we are ques­tioned, we have the right to give our re­ply to them. The pub­lic is­sue (through which funds were raised abroad) was in 2006. This case was be­ing dealt by the ED of­fice in Chandi­garh for quite some time. Now, it has is­sued sum­mons and the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the com­pany (Rana Gur­jit’s son) will go and re­ply. There is no al­le­ga­tion. The ED wants some an­swers. “Jheda gaddi leuga, chal­lan odha hi houga”. Who is­sues chal­lan to those loi­ter­ing on roads? What­ever we have earned is through our hard work.

Leader of op­po­si­tion Sukh­pal Khaira was de­mand­ing your res­ig­na­tion from the time when the sand mine con­tro­versy broke out.

Sand min­ing is not an is­sue. Noth­ing was proved against me. The Narang com­mis­sion has given its re­port, but they ques­tion ev­ery­one. I have re­signed due to re­lent­less tirade. It is for my party to de­cide now. Why doesn’t Khaira also show some moral stan­dard and re­sign from his po­si­tion? He was is­sued sum­mons in a drug case.

When did you give the res­ig­na­tion, what was the CM’s re­sponse?

I can­not tell you that. This was be­tween me and him.

There is talk of rum­blings within the party and there was not much sup­port for you. What do you say?

This is not true. I don’t be­lieve such talk. I be­lieve in one thing that you should never sus­pect your party and your part­ner.

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