Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
‘I resigned on moral grounds; will Khaira also quit?’
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.