After dilly-dallying over it for days, the Congress on Thursday accepted the resignation of Punjab’s controversial cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh following allegations of corruption and money laundering against him.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who met Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Thursday, confirmed that Rana Gurjit’s resignation had been accepted.
“His resignation has been accepted (by the Congress president),” Amarinder Singh, who visibly looked upset with the development, told the media in Delhi after his meeting with Gandhi.
Sources in the Punjab government said the resignation would now be forwarded by the Chief Minister’s office to Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore.
Considered one of the most powerful ministers in Punjab and a close aide of Amarinder Singh, Rana Gurjit was holding the important portfolios of irrigation and power.
Rana Gurjit submitted his resignation over 10 days back but Amarinder Singh did not accept it.
Congress sources said the party high command was adamant that Rana Gurjit had to go.
Rana Gurjit had courted controversies in the past few months in the multi-crore sand mining auction done in the 10-month-old Amarinder Singh government.
People associated with Rana Gurjit and his companies had bagged multi-crore rupee sand mining contracts in May last year.
One of them was formerly a cook with Rana Gurjit. It was alleged that these people were just fronts for the minister and his companies and the sand mining contracts were picked up through benami.
A one-man commission headed by retired Justice J.S. Narang gave a clean chit to Rana Gurjit in the sand mining auction controversy.
The billionaire minister has business interests in liquor and sugar manufacturing. The Chief Minister had been defending him despite the corruption controversies.
Rana Gurjit’s son Inder Pratap Singh was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday in Jalandhar over allegations of raising Rs 100 crore abroad without taking permission from the Reserve Bank of India.
The Aam Aadmi Party and Shiromani Akali Dal were seeking the resignation of Rana Gurjit following the allegations of corruption and conflict of interest against him.
On Thursday, AAP leader and Punjab’s Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira welcomed the resignation of Rana Gurjit.