‘YOU WILL FACE CRIMINAL DEFAMATION: SARMA HITS BACK AT SISODIA
Bitter war of words has broken out between Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia over the issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits.
Sarma has threatened to file a criminal defamation suit after Sisodia alleged corruption in the procurement of Covid PPE kits.
Sisodia in Delhi said that PPE kit contracts were awarded to a company linked to Sarma’s wife. “Himanta Biswa Sarma awarded the contract to his wife’s company. He paid Rs 990 for the PPE kits while others were purchased at Rs 600 apiece from another company on the same day. This is a huge crime,” Sisodia said and dared BJP leadership to take action against Sarma. Assam CM tweeted, “Stop sermonising and I will see you soon in Guwahati as you will face criminal defamation”.
Sarma in another tweet stated, “Manish Bhai, most surprising that you once claimed to be an “anti-corruption” activist. At that point of Covid wave, we in Assam did not have any single PPE kit. After hectic efforts, my wife managed to bring in a few kits to save precious lives. Although NHM issued the order, the company raised no bill and the kits were gifted to the Govt.
Not a single penny was transacted, where is the corruption? Due to acute shortage then, every government including yours waived tender process for PPE kit and went for direct purchase. Don’t cherry-pick from half the documents. Have the courage to put all the facts. Don’t show half of a document trail, have courage to put all the facts?”
Opposition parties including the Congress, Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad have demanded a probe by Central agency into the irregularities in purchase of sanitisers and PPE kits– in 2020. Sarma was health minister at that time. Around 50,000 PPE kits from Guangzhou in China arrived in 2020.
Assam govt refutes
Assam government on Saturday refuted allegations by a section of the media that chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s family was involved in alleged malpractices in the supply of PPE kits above the market price during the pandemic.
Government spokesman Pijush Hazarika said there was no scam in the supply of PPE kits and no member of the CM’s family were involved in the supply of any material related to the Covid pandemic.
The allegations are “false, imaginary, malicious and can be attributed as the handiwork of a certain section with vested interests,” Hazarika, who is also the minister for water resources and information and public relations told reporters. “Why are the two organisations (who made the claims) not going to the Court if they have evidence instead of making false and baseless allegations?” he added.
On June 1 two digital media organisations- ‘The Wire’ and Guwahati-based ‘The Crosscurrent’ in a joint investigative report claimed that Assam government had placed four Covid-19 related emergency medical supply orders most likely without following proper process.