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Punjab CM terms probe by Union Minister into scholarship scam another attack on federal polity

PUNJAB NEW EXPRESS | August 31, 2020 10:30 PM

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister has taken strong exception to an inquiry being ordered into the alleged scholarship scam by Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment without consulting the state government or waiting for the report of Chief Secretary’s investigation into the matter.

He was reacting to the claim of Union Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Som Prakash that a departmental inquiry had been ordered by the Social Justice Ministry of Government of India on his complaint. Som Prakash was quoted saying late on Monday evening that he had drawn the attention of Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot to the alleged scam.

If true, the move was yet another attack on the federal structure of the Indian Constitutional polity, the Chief Minister said, adding that the move was clearly aimed at eroding the state government’s authority, as part of the BJP-led central government’s agenda to undermine the governments in all non-BJP ruled states. But his government will not succumb to such petty and motivated pressures by the BJP or any of its alliance partners, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, he asserted.

Pointing out that the alleged scam into which the said inquiry has been ordered in fact took place in the 2015-2017 period, under the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime, the Chief Minister said if the intent behind the so-called central government departmental investigation was to cover up the BJP-SAD tracks in the case, it would not succeed.

It was in fact during an audit ordered by his government that certain misappropriations came to light, which were now the subject matter of the Chief Secretary’s inquiry, Captain Amarinder said. The department had come across gaps and apparent misdemeanours in certain payments made to some colleges as per the funds sanctioned during the previous regime and it was then that he had decided to order the detailed probe, said the Chief Minister.

The inquiry ordered by him was in line with the specific rules of governance and the only lawful course to take, Captain Amarinder said, adding that any inquiry by a central department into a case relating to the state without consulting the latter was totally untenable.

Captain Amarinder also slammed the Centre over its anti-Dalit act of withdrawing the Post-Matric SC Scholarship Scheme, which was benefitting lakhs of the poor SC students in the state by providing them access to higher education.

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