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PPE kits procurement ‘scam’ continues to rock Assam politics

After a war of words between the Assam CM and Delhi CM and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, the AAP on Monday filed a complaint against alleged irregularities.

SNS | Guwahati |

The alleged irregularities in procuring of PPE kits in Assam in 2020, continue to rock Assam politics with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday organising a ‘March to Raj Bhavan’ demanding CBI probe into it.

The TMC submitted a memorandum, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to an official of the Raj Bhavan demanding CBI inquiry to unearth the truth.

The TMC rally led by party’s Assam state president Ripun Bora gave slogans on ‘corruption charges’ against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his wife’s company.

Apart from the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and other opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress has accused Sarma and his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sharma “for doing irregularities in supply of PPE kits during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020”.

Bora, a former Assam Congress President who joined the TMC earlier this year, in his memorandum to the Prime Minister said that medical supply orders were given to companies owned by Riniki Bhuyan Sharma and her ‘business friend’ Ashok Dhanuka’s son Ghanshyam Dhanuka, for their own benefit.

“At a time when you (PM) are advocating a policy of ‘zero tolerance towards corruption’, saying ‘na khaunga, na khane doonga’ (neither will I take, nor allow others to take), the BJP’s Assam CM Sarma has become embroiled in this controversy.

“It has been alleged that the firms close to the Assam CM were given orders for PPE kits at the rate of Rs 990 while others supplied the same at Rs 600 a piece. There are rumours that crores of rupees have allegedly changed hands,” the TMC memorandum said.

After a war of words between the Assam Chief Minister and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Aam Adami Party on Monday filed a complaint at Latasil police station against alleged irregularities.

In a letter to Governor Jagdish Mukhi, the AAP demanded suspension of Himanta Biswa Sarma and initiate a probe against him.

After threatening to file a criminal defamation suit against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Assam Chief Minister earlier said that his Delhi counterpart offered to buy PPE kits from anywhere without tender in 2020.

“Delhi CM suo motu offered to buy PPE kits from anywhere without a tender. Why? Does his Deputy CM think the CM is corrupt as he asked someone to arrange PPE kits from somewhere immediately, and said that Delhi Govt will buy them? No reference to any tender etc.”

Sarma had tagged a tweet of April 6, 2020 by the Delhi Chief Minister in which he requested BJP Lok Sabha Member Gautam Gambhir to arrange for PPE kits “from somewhere immediately” after the former cricketer had promised Rs one crore from his MP LAD fund for procurement of medical equipment.

On Saturday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister had levelled a fresh allegation of corruption against Sarma, accusing the latter of awarding PPE kit contracts to his kin during the Covid emergency.

The Assam government earlier strongly denied the allegations of irregularity in supply of PPE kits and sanitisers and that Sarma’s family was involved in the reported malpractice.

Assam’s Information and Public Relations Minister Pijush Hazarika, who is also the state government’s spokesman, said there was no irregularity in the supply of PPE kits and no member of Sarma’s family was involved.