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Cong demands CBI/ED probe into PPE kit scam, Himanta downplays allegations

GUWAHATI:

Hundreds of Congress workers staged a dharna inside Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati on June 2 demanding a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) or ED (Enforcement Directorate) probe into the PPE kit scam, even as Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma downplayed the allegations levelled against him.

“The state health minister and present chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had awarded the contract for the supply of PPE kits and sanitiser to a firm owned by his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and two other firms owned by his friend Ghanashyam Das Dhanuka son of Ashok Dhanuka flouting all rules and regulations for procurement of items,” said Bhupen Kumar Bora, president, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC).

Stating that the firm owned by Ghanashyam Dhanuka in which his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and son Nandil Biswa Sarma were also partners was awarded the contract for the procurement of sanitizer and other items at an exorbitant price, Bora urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an investigation into the scam, where the chief minister and his family members were involved in siphoning off public fund meant for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Congress will continue to protest till the government orders a high-level probe into the scam,” Bora said.

Reacting to the allegations, chief minister Himanta who was busy campaigning for the elections to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) at Beluguri in Howraghat on June 2 has downplayed the allegations of PPE kit procurement scam which has appeared in two media outlets in a series of reports.

Claiming that the PPE kits were received as donations from a number of firms, the chief minister said, “These people have no issue and just have cooked it up. What is the scope for allegation if somebody donates anything in need?” the chief minister told reporters.

Targeting state Congress president Bhupen Bora for demanding a statement from the government Sarma said, “Bhupen Bora donated neither plasma nor blood.  Then why so much hue and cry?”

However, Sarma avoided a number of questions posed by the media after two prominent news portals broke the scam in the name of procuring PPE kits and hand sanitizers from a firm co-owned by his family members during the pandemic.

The Congress leaders and workers asked the government to clear its position on the media reports alleging the huge scam in the name of containing the Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Assam, has also demanded a judicial probe into the alleged scam in the procurement of PPE kits and hand sanitizer in the state during Covid-19 pandemic.

“A judicial inquiry should be instituted to probe into the scam where the chief minister’s family members were involved. We have nothing to say on the business of the chief minister’s family members. But the misuse of power is condemnable,” said Dr Bhaven Choudhury, state coordinator, AAP, Assam, on June 2.

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