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A dozen Congress MLAs including top minister trapped in mining scam

While Punjab’s three-monthold Congress government is trying to fight its way out of a sandstorm with minister Rana Gurjit Singh mired in a mining scam, an India Today TV investigation has found that nearly a dozen MLAs of the party are in a similar tangle.

India Today TV tracked down about half a dozen of the 17 successful bidders who, according to opposition parties, are close to Congress legislators and other leaders

As the layers of the scam are opening, the scandal is being exposed inch by inch. For 18 mines there was a single bidder. There are rules that if there is a single bidder there is re-tendering. Names of Congress MLAs like Kushaldeep Dhillon, Rana Sodhi and others are cropping up,” Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, general secretary of Akali Dal and a former minister.

“The central agencies should conduct an independent inquiry as this is a big scandal. The probe should be impartial. More names will come forward.”

The CM has ruled out cancellation of the auctions under pressure from the opposition parties or media reports.

“Any decision in the matter would be based on judicious application of the law, and in the interest of justice,” the state government said in a statement last week.

Apart from the 11 Congress MLAs, the BJP claims some top state government officials are also involved in it.

“What the BJPAkali Dal did previously, Congress is repeating the same. Gurjit Singh’s cook whose bank balance was just Rs 4,000, from where he managed Rs 13 crore? What is the trail of this money?’

MLA Sukhpal Bhullar is one of those accused of influencing bids.

His brother-in-law Mohan Pal participated in the bidding for a mine and even deposited the earnest money, but backed out later.

However, his close friend, Manpreet Singh, won a mining bid for Rs 9.13 crore.

Manpreet is also my friend. We are school-time friends. What is wrong in it?” Bhullar said

It was a transparent process and the government had gone for progressive bidding,”said MLA Angad Singh

Sources said Angad lobbied for a firm, Walia Constructions, which won a bid for Rs 1.97 crore.

He however, denied the allegations and said he doesn’t know the firm or its owners.

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