September 27, 2016 4:21:17 am
Why are you seeking a CBI probe into the food scam? Will it not delay the matter?
I have prayed to the Supreme Court for a court-monitored physical verification of foodgrain stocks and a CBI probe in a time-bound manner. It is one of the biggest scams to have taken place in Independent India and because the family of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is involved as his son-in-law Adesh Partap Singh Kairon is Punjab’s food minister, a probe is needed. Otherwise, the farmers of our state will suffer.
What is the basis of the petition?
I have made out a case on the basis of reports of Comptroller and Auditor General on Public Sector Undertakings (Social, General and Economic Sectors) for the year ended March 31, 2013; March 31, 2015 and the report on Procurement and Milling of Paddy for the Central Pool for the year ended March 2014 that reflects the discrepancies in the procurement of food grains by the state. The reports very clearly say the gap between the outstanding CCL and the stock of foodgrains had widened from Rs 1,433.64 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 21,562.82 crore in 2014-15. The State Bank of India , observing this difference, asked (January 2015) the Punjab government to deposit the outstanding amount of Rs 20,920.36 crore (as on 30 November 2014) into the Food Cash Credit loan account to regularise the account. The bank also charged (December 2014) Rs 2.57 crore as penal interest from state’s procurement agencies.
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How do you think the scam can eclipse the interests of farmers?
There is a very deep-rooted political plan to all this. I apprehend that if an opposition party forms the government in Punjab, the NDA government at the Centre would make it difficult for them to procure wheat during its first procurement season only. The new government in Punjab is likely to take oath in March and the wheat procurement season would start in April. I fear they would order verification of grains in March and then stop the CCL in April. Where will our farmers go then? And if their government comes then they will set it aside once again.
The CCL limit was released during the wheat procurement.
We all know that scam came to light earlier this year. The RBI had refused to give CCL limit to the state during wheat procurement. Later, a political decision was taken. There were strings that were pulled. The scam was one of the reasons for the ouster of former Governor of RBI Raghuram Rajan. He was overridden in the case.
Have you taken the matter up at any other platform?
I raised it in Rajya Sabha earlier. I appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had given a solemn pledge to nation “Na khayunga Na khaane dungs”. Now is the time to come true to that. I am sure the PM would not barter the nation’s interest over political considerations. CBI is under the direct ambit of the PM.
Why are you raising this issue at this juncture? Is it not the prerogative of Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder singh to raise such issues?
I am a proud Punjabi. I want to pay back to the state by raising the issue of the scam and get the money recovered. I had demanded a CBI probe into the drug trade in the state when I was the president. Then in May this year I moved the SC. Rest, I can only narrate a couplet by Dushyant Kumar: Koi hungama khada karna mera maqsad nahi, meri koshish hai ke yeh surat badalni chahiye, mere seene mein nahin to tere seene mein sahi, ho kahin bhi aag lekin aag jalni chahiye.”
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