After the war of words between the Assam Chief Minister and Delhi Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, the Aam Adami Party on Monday filed a complaint at Latasil police station against alleged irregularities in procuring of PPE kits in Assam in 2020.
The AAP members also staged a demonstration in Guwahati against the “wrongdoing in procuring of PPE kits”.
In a letter to the Governor Jagdish Mukhi, the AAP demanded suspension of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and initiate a probe against him.
The other opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, have been demanding a Supreme Court monitored probe or by the central agencies into the matter.
AAP’s Assam State Secretary Victor Gogoi on Monday filed a complaint at Latasil police station against alleged anomalies in procuring of PPE kits in Assam in 2020. However, the police have yet to register an FIR. “When Sarma was health minister of Assam in 2020, his wife’s company, JCB Industries, and his family associate’s company, Meditime Healthcare, got orders to procure PPE kits at the cost of Rs 990 a piece. This was despite the fact that the government had an option to buy kits at a cost of Rs 600 from other dealers, Gogoi said in his complaint.
The party further alleged, “Business partners of Sarma’s son also received an order from the government to provide PPE kits at a cost of Rs 990 per kit. A company owned by business partner of Sarma’s wife, Agile Associates, received an order to deliver 10,000 PPE kits at a cost of Rs 2,205 per kit.”
AAP’s district coordinator Abdul Mazid in his letter to Governor Jagdish Mukhi demanding Sarma’s resignation said that he (Sarma) misused his Constitutional power for the benefit of his family’s interest. “It is a very serious matter and therefore, the AAP demands your good office to constitute an inquiry committee to probe into the matter. To avoid the inquiry getting influenced, Chief Minister Sarma must be suspended from his post immediately as he is also holding the home portfolio,” the AAP leader said.
The AAP further alleged, “Business partners of Sarma’s son also received an order from the government to provide PPE kits at a cost of Rs 990 per kit. A company owned by business partner of Sarma’s wife, Agile Associates, received an order to deliver 10,000 PPE kits at a cost of Rs 2,205 per kit,”.
Assam Chief Minister earlier on Sunday said that his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal offered to buy PPE kits from anywhere without tender in 2020 a day after Sarma threatened to file a criminal defamation suit against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
“Delhi CM suo moto offered to buy PPE kits from anywhere without 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 tagged a tweet of April 6, 2020 by 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.
Referring to a media report, Sisodia said that while the Assam government procured PPE kits for Rs 600 a piece from other companies, Sarma gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sharma and son’s business partners for Rs 990 a piece, taking advantage of the emergency situation.
Sarma later hit back at Sisodia, threatening to file a criminal defamation suit against him.”Stop sermonising and I will see you soon in Guwahati as you will face criminal defamation,” Sarma tweeted.
In another tweet, Sarma on Saturday said: “At a time when the entire country was facing the worst pandemic in over 100 years, Assam hardly had any PPE kits. My wife took the courage to come forward and donated around 1,500 free of cost to the government to save lives. She didn’t take a single penny.”
The Assam government on Saturday 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.
Hazarika said that considering the emergency situation, orders for supply of PPE kits were placed with 35 firms and for supply of sanitisers, orders were placed to nine firms. A supply order of only Rs 85 lakh was given to the firm referred to by the media portals, the minister said.
Sarma, now the Chief Minister, was the Health and Family Welfare Minister in 2020 in the previous Assam government headed by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who is now a Union minister.