Chandigarh: Dream of being a crorepati someday? Cooking for Punjab minister Rana Gurjit Singh may get you there and may even ‘win’ you a sand mine.
Sample this: The biggest sand mine in Punjab’s latest e-auction went for Rs 26 crore to Amit Bahadur, Rana Gurjit Singh’s former cook who barely makes Rs 11,000 a month, prompting the opposition to question whether the Power and Irrigation Minister was using his staff as proxy to win government contracts. The sand mine ‘won’ by Bahadur is in Saidpur Khurd of Punjab’s Nawanshahr district.
The bidding was held on May 19 and 20 where the government auctioned 89 sand mines and claimed to have raised over Rs 1000 crore.
Bahadur, from Nepal, has reportedly already deposited Rs 13 crore with the government. He is now untraceable and, according to Singh, left his employment a month ago.
“I cannot keep a track of all my employees. Bahadur quit and left my house a long time ago,” Singh told CNN-News18. Denying the allegations against him, Singh said: “I cannot comment on a former cook buying a contract worth Rs 26 crore. I have no connection with mining.”
Singh is Punjab’s richest MLA worth Rs 169 crore. The sugar baron is the owner of Rana Sugars Limited.
This is not the first time his staff or former staff have “won” sand mines in auctions.
His former employee Kulwinder Paul Singh won a sand mine in Mehdipur district in Rajasthan. Another employee, Balraj, won Rs 9-crore bid in Bairsal, Haryana. Staff member Gurinder won Rs 4-crore sand mining contract in Mohali’s Rampur Kalan.
This is the first big corruption allegation to hit the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in the state which took power in March. Seizing the opportunity, the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is planning to hold a demonstration outside the Chief Minister’s residence to demand a probe against Singh.