BJP MP's Revelation Leaves Assam Government Red-faced

Tezpur MP RP Sharma levels graft charges against several key ministers of Sonowal cabinet

The BJP-led 3-party coalition in Dispur perhaps least expected it. Barely a little over-a-year in office, the Sarbananda Sonowal government now suddenly finds itself in an embarrassing situation with a BJP MP leveling allegations of corruption against members of Sonowal Cabinet.

The Chief Minister, however, has said he is ready to look into any allegation of corruption against his government, even as the BJP is all set to take up the matter in its State executive meeting scheduled on October 7 next.

Causing red faces in the ruling dispensation, Tezpur Lok Sabha MP RP Sharma reportedly told a local private news channel how some senior ministers of Sonowal Cabinet are indulging in corruption.

The MP named State Irrigation Minister Ranjit Dutta and accused him of charging 10% commission while awarding contracts of the department to individuals. Sharma had reportedly told the channel that an acquaintance of his was charged 10% commission for awarding him a contract. The Minister allegedly even owns a firm, which is awarded contracts of the department, besides directing contractors whom to deal with vis-à-vis paying commission.

The MP named State Irrigation Minister Ranjit Dutta and accused him of charging 10% commission while awarding contracts of the department to individuals

Faced with such an embarrassing situation, AGP members Atul Bora and Keshav Mahanta, who are also ministers in the Sonowal government, have written a letter to the Chief Minister seeking a probe into the allegations. Bora holds the Agriculture portfolio, while Mahanta heads the Water Resources department.
RP Sarma
Image: RP Sarma

The duo pointed out in their letter that at a time when there's a talk of "zero tolerance" against graft, such an allegation has come into the public domain, which is a cause of concern. They demanded a probe to unearth the truth behind the allegation.

However, when asked about the allegation leveled by Sharma, State BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass said that Sharma has clarified that he had not made any such allegations. "So who do I trust--what Sharma has told me or the media report?" quipped Dass.

Meanwhile, not wishing to let go an opportunity to lambast the government, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has pooh-poohed the Sonowal government's claims of zero tolerance against corruption. According to the APCC, the allegations by the ruling party's own MP have exposed the reality. Stating that corruption is all-prevalent, the Congress also demanded that Dutta be immediately dropped from the Sonowal Cabinet.

On the other hand, RP Sharma has also reportedly taken the names of Atul Bora, Keshav Mahanta, Pallab Lochan Das and Rihon Daimari, all ministers in the Sonowal government, and alleged that they too were involved in corrupt practices.

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