Jalandhar (Punjab), Dec 26:
Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials Friday questioned Punjab Minister Bikram Singh Majithia with regard to a multi-million rupee international synthetic drugs racket busted last year.
Majithia, who is the younger brother of Union Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal, faces allegations of having links with certain non-resident Indians (NRIs) who have been accused of international money laundering related to the drugs racket.
Majithia arrived at the regional office of the ED in Jalandhar city, 150 km from Chandigarh.
The ED, a wing under the union finance ministry, had sent summons to Majithia, who is the revenue minister in the Parkash Singh Badal-led government in Punjab, to appear Dec 26.
The Punjab police had busted the Rs.6,000-crore international synthetic drugs racket in the state in 2013. The ED conducted separate investigations in the drug racket case after serious allegations of money laundering emerged.
ED sources said that Majithia is likely to be asked over 50 questions by the officials regarding his links to three NRIs and the money laundering racket associated with the drugs case.
Majithia is also the brother-in-law of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal (Harsimrat’s husband).
He is considered very powerful in Punjab’s ruling circles due to his proximity to Sukhbir Badal.
There have been demands from various quarters for Majithia’s resignation on moral grounds after he was recently summoned by the ED.
Chief Minister Badal, however, ruled out Majithia’s resignation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been running an alliance government with the Akali Dal in Punjab since 2007, has also left the Badal government and the Akali Dal embarrassed after it sought Majithia’s resignation this week.
The ED summons to Majithia was an embarrassment for the Badal government as the central government is BJP-led and Harsimrat Badal is the Akali Dal representative in it.
Though Majithia’s name had started figuring in racket last year itself, when the Congress-led UPA government was in power at the Centre, the summons were finally sent by the ED only now.
The Badal’s are considered close to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had unsuccessfully contested the Amritsar Lok Sabha poll in April-May this year from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat at the behest of the Badal-Majithia combine. (IANS)