Phagwara. Senior Congress leader and former Punjab minister Joginder Singh Mann on Friday resigned, breaking the 50-year-old ties with the party. Mann, a leader of the Scheduled Caste (SC) community, was upset over the “no action” being taken against the perpetrators of the alleged multi-crore post-matric SC scholarship scam and not granting district status to Phagwara. He resigned as the chairman of the party and Punjab Agro Industries Corporation. Sources said that Mann is likely to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
In a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the former Phagwara MLA said that he had a dream that he would die as a Congressman. “But the culprits of the matriculation scholarship scheme are protected by the Congress, and my conscience does not allow me to stay here (in the party),” he said. Mann has been a minister in the governments led by Beant Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Amarinder Singh.
He alleged, “Since the time Raje Maharajes, rich and opportunistic leaders like Captain Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress, they used the party for their vested interests and the principles and values of the party were marginalised. Only one basic mantra remained for everyone, how to grab power by winning elections.
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The SC scholarship scam had come to the fore in 2020 after a report by the then Additional Chief Secretary revealed an alleged misappropriation of Rs 55.71 crore. The report also questioned the role of the then Social Justice Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in saving the people allegedly involved in the scam. The then Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had directed the then Chief Secretary of the state to conduct a thorough investigation. Based on the findings of a three-member committee of IAS officers, the chief secretary’s report did not hold Dharamsot guilty.
Mann said that he had been raising the issue of district status to Phagwara with the then Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and incumbent Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi from day one. He alleged that but instead of paying any heed to it, he has hurt the sentiments and aspirations of the residents of Phagwara by ignoring this long pending demand.