CHANDIGARH (TIP): Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Gulzar Singh Ranike, who had resigned on moral grounds in September last year following allegations of misappropriation of public funds in Attari constituency in Amritsar, was re-inducted into the Punjab cabinet as minister for animal husbandry and welfare of SC and OBC on March 7. Allegations of siphoning funds worth Rs 2.5 crore from money meant for central-funded Border Area Development Programme to fake accounts in Attari had been leveled against Ranike’s department. However, On February 27 this year, Punjab and Haryana high court had disposed of a petition for an investigation by the CBI or the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), making the way clear for Ranike into the cabinet.
Earlier, the vigilance bureau had given the clean chit to Ranike in the scam, while his former personal assistant (PA) Sarabdyal Singh was arrested and the case is pending in the court. “I stand vindicated today. My resignation last year was to uphold moral ethics in politics as well to maintain the dignity of the office so as to enable the inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau to proceed in a transparent and impartial manner” Ranike told TOI. Ranike’s induction has now brought the cabinet’s strength to 18 ministers in the 117-seat Vidhan Sabha assembly. Earlier, senior Akali leaders Tota Singh and Bibi Jagir Kaur had resigned from the cabinet in quick succession due to convictions by court. Their portfolios are with chief minister Parkash singh Badal.