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CBI Questions Two BJP Ministers In Punjab

Chandigarh, May 9: Two Punjab BJP ministers were today questioned by the CBI in connection with a graft case in which Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS), Finance, Raj Khurana has been arrested.Industries and Local Bodies Minister

PTI [ Updated: May 09, 2011 18:16 IST ]
cbi questions two bjp ministers in punjab
cbi questions two bjp ministers in punjab

Chandigarh, May 9: Two Punjab BJP ministers were today questioned by the CBI in connection with a graft case in which Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS), Finance, Raj Khurana has been arrested.

Industries and Local Bodies Minister Manoranjan Kalia arrived at the CBI office in Sector 30 here at 11.20 AM and remained closeted for about 75 minutes. He was followed by Technical Education Minister Swarna Ram.

Denying any role in the case, Kalia, who is at number three position in the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP alliance government in the state, said that he replied to all CBI queries in the case.

"I have replied to all of them. I have no connection with the case," he said at a press conference at the Punjab BJP headquarters.

Backing its ministers, the BJP accused the CBI of acting at the behest of the Congress and said its two leaders will come out clean.

"We do not trust the CBI. It is playing into the hands of the Congress," Punjab BJP President Ashwani Sharma said at the press conference.

Kalra's lawyer K S Sukhija said that the Minister will not move for anticipatory bail as there is no direct involvement of the BJP leader.

The CBI had issued notice to the two ministers following the arrest of Khurana and Devinder Singh, an official of Registrar, Firms & Societies and a Chandigarh resident, on Thursday for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore for closing a complaint against an association.

Punjab Automobile Mechanic Association secretary Manpreet Singh had filed the complaint against the duo.

The CBI had booked Khurana alleging that the bribe money was to be handed over through him to Kalia whose name along with that of Swarna Ram cropped up during three recorded conversation involving Devinder and Khurana which were submitted to the court by the CBI.

Kalia said that the CBI officials made him listen to the audio tape of conversation involving Khurana, Devinder and Manpreet.

When asked if he was confronted with Khurana and Devinder, Kalia replied in the negative.

"I have nothing to do with the case. Such files do not come to me. They are handled at the lower level," he said,

adding that he had not met Khurana since the case came to light.

Replying to a question, Kalia said that it was the prerogative of the CBI to call him again or not.

"I did not go as an accused. I have not been named as an accused by the CBI," he said.

Kalia said that it was an "open secret" that the CBI is working at the behest of the ruling Congress at the Centre.

"I am being targeted because I am a leader of the BJP. The Congress is trying to find fault with the saffron party as elections in Punjab are drawing near," Kalia said.

The Industries Minister repeatedly said that he did not know the accused Devinder.

He said that he has apprised the BJP high command of the developments in the state.

"This is a conspiracy against the BJP by the Congress because the saffron party is the biggest threat to it," Sharma.

He alleged that the Congress is involved neck-deep in corruption as was evident from CWG and other cases.

Earlier, Kalia entered the CBI building with great difficulty due to presence of a large number of supporters, including women.

The senior BJP leader jostled his way to reach the entrance gate of the CBI office after alighting from his vehicle in front of the building.

The supporters had gathered despite elaborate security arrangements made by Chandigarh Police which closed the road in front of the CBI office to normal traffic.

Kalia in a letter written to the CBI said that the case is "politically motivated."

"I wish to be accompanied by my advocate K S Sukhija," he said adding that all legal norms should be followed during the investigation.

Sukhija did not enter the CBI office with Kalia nor was he called in.

"The accused Devinder has named him and later Khurana took his name. They themselves (Kalia) are confused as to how his name came in," Sakhija said outside the office.

Kalia's lawyer said that the CBI in its notice to the Minister did not mention any specific date for appearance before the agency officers. The notice asked Kalia to appear "as early as possible", he said.

Khurana, a BJP MLA from Rajpura, and Devinder were arrested after a raid at the residence of Khurana allegedly resulted in recovery of Rs 15 lakh in cash and Rs 1.35 Crore through cheques from a car belonging to Devinder which was parked outside the official residence of the CPS. PTI

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