'A tainted minister': Punjab minister Rana Gurjeet writes to Sonia Gandhi seeking Sukhpal Khaira's expulsion
Kapurthala, Jan 23: Punjab minister Rana Gurjeet Singh on Sunday wrote to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi seeking expulsion of Sukhpal Singh Khaira from the party, raking up the issue of Enforcement Directorate's action against him last year in connection with a money laundering case.
With less than a month to go for the state assembly polls, the bitter rivalry between some Congress leaders from Kapurthala region has come to light.
Punjab Minister Rana Gurjeet Singh urges Congress chief Sonia Gandhi "to intervene into the allotment of party ticket from Bholath to Sukhpal Singh Khaira, demands his expulsion by calling him "a tainted minister." pic.twitter.com/NIZgVD2FPT— ANI (@ANI) January 24, 2022
The ED had last year arrested Khaira, who is the Congress's nominee from Bholath, under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), alleging that he was an "associate" of convicts in the case and of fake passport racketeers.
Rana Gurjeet's move came days after Khaira, Navtej Singh Cheema and two other Punjab Congress leaders shot off a letter to Gandhi, seeking his expulsion from the party alleging that he was "weakening" it ahead of the assembly polls.
The minister has launched an aggressive campaign for his son Rana Inder Partap Singh, who is contesting the state assembly elections from Sultanpur Lodhi as an Independent candidate against ruling Congress's nominee Navtej Singh Cheema. Khaira is currently in jail in connection with the money laundering case, said Rana Gurjeet, who has been fielded by the Congress from Kapurthala constituency.
"It is not a routine money laundering case of unaccounted wealth or money. It relates to drug money... which is unacceptable and indefensible... The Congress has always been against drugs. In fact, it was our former chief Rahul Gandhi who flagged the issue in 2015 while referring to serious problem of drugs in Punjab," he said in the letter.
"So, how can our party give a ticket to someone who is tainted... It'll be difficult for Congress leaders and contestants to defend the indefensible that on the one hand we have sworn we will eliminate drugs and on the other hand we are giving a ticket to a tainted person who is in jail," the minister said.
He said it is high time the Congress took a stand on the issue of drugs and someone who is tainted and in jail.
"Allotting a party ticket to him will send wrong signals... as a loyal and humble Congressman, who has served in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha for the last two decades projecting and defending the Congress policies, I cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in my party.
"I consider it my sincere duty to bring all these facts to your attention so that you take urgent corrective measures," Rana Gurjeet said. Meanwhile, earlier in the day on Sunday, the minister campaigned for his son in villages falling under the Sultanpur Lodhi constituency.
The Cabinet minister had started campaigning for Inder Partap from Bussowal, the native village of Cheema, on January 21, claiming that his son would be elected by the voters of the constituency. Talking to PTI, the minister said he decided to campaign for his son after the four Congress leaders wrote to Gandhi and added that it was also his moral responsibility to favour Inder Partap.
Rana Gurjeet threw an open challenge to the leaders asking them to campaign against him in Kapurthala segment from where he is seeking re-election as the Congress nominee. Asked if there had been any action by the party high command for campaigning against Cheema, Rana Gurjeet said he had not received any show cause notice over it.
The four Congress leaders wrote the letter to Gandhi after Inder Pratap decided to contest as an Independent from Sultanpur Lodhi as the party fielded Cheema from the constituency. The letter was written by Cheema, Jalandhar North legislator Avtar Singh Junior, Phagwara MLA Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal and former MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira.