Chandigarh, July 4: Chief minister Amarinder Singh, in a rebuff to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, today directed the vigilance bureau not to pay heed to “irrelevant and irresponsible” statements from the Centre and to continue raids on properties owned by his predecessor Parkash Singh Badal.
Advani had spoken against the chief minister’s crackdown spree, which prompted BJP president Brij Lal Rinwa to seek President’s rule if “Amarinder’s political vendetta continues”.
“Whatever is happening in Punjab is wrong, sheer intolerance against the Opposition and against the values of democracy,” the deputy Prime Minister had said yesterday.
The bureau today raided three properties owned by Badal’s family in Muktsar, Killianwali and Dabwali.
“The chief minister has asked us to go ahead, stating that he would protect us from any central interference,” a senior vigilance officer said.
Amarinder has charged Badal with amassing wealth to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore. The chief minister had vowed to send his predecessor and his family members to jail. Vigilance chief A.P. Pandey, however, said the bureau has so far estimated the value of the properties searched at Rs 30 crore.
There are reports that a fresh case, accusing Badal of being involved in the embezzlement of over Rs 150 crore in a Union water resources ministry project, was registered today in Pathankot.
An Akali spokesman said the project was a central government-funded scheme and Badal had nothing to do with it.
The properties raided today include a petrol pump in Muktsar in which Badal’s brother Gurdas is a partner, a transport workshop and a building rented to a bank. Both are in Haryana.
The bureau has already searched five properties in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana. They include a house and two showrooms in Chandigarh, a poultry farm near Kharar and a farmhouse in Balasar.
According to the vigilance bureau, the house, which belongs to Badal’s son Sukhbir, has 28 air-conditioners, Italian marble flooring and a dance floor. The house is expected to be thrown open to the media and “anyone wishing to see it”. Sukhbir, who has contested the claim, has also challenged the bureau to file a chargesheet.