New Delhi: The Opposition parties in Assam on Thursday sought an investigation by central agencies into the alleged irregularities in the supply of PPE kits by firms related to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s wife during the Covid-19 pandemic, news agency PTI reported. The Opposition Congress, Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) separately sought a high-level probe into the alleged malpractice in supplying PPE kits in 2020, when Sarma was the health minister in the previous BJP government in Assam.
“The detailed investigation by two media organisations proved that rules were flouted in awarding multi-crore contracts to firms owned by Sarma’s wife and family business associates for supplying PPE kits and other anti-COVID-19 goods,” PTI quoted state Congress chief Bhupen Kumar Borah as saying.
Quoting media reports, Borah alleged that supply orders were placed at 65% higher rates than the market prices, with companies owned by Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, the chief minister’s wife.
“If PM Narendra Modi has courage and really believes in zero tolerance towards corruption, then order an impartial probe by CBI or Enforcement Directorate against all irregularities committed by Sarma and his family,” Borah added.
Will @PMOIndia have the moral courage to order an enquiry into the #PPEKIT scam by #ED & #CBI which involves @himantabiswa .Let the skeletons come out of the closet. @mygovassam had placed four COVID-19 related emergency medical supply orders to three firms. #Scandalexpose https://t.co/vhRvdvMRkC
— Bhupen kumar Borah (@BhupenKBorah) June 1, 2022
Meanwhile, the Congress workers also staged protests wearing PPE kits in Guwahati and demanded a probe by either CBI or ED.
Raijor Dal Working president Bhasco De Saikia said, “If this corruption is thoroughly investigated, then many new angles will come to light. That is why we demand a CBI probe into these cases.”
On the other hand, in a separate press meeting, AJP chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi accused Sarma’s wife of the alleged irregularities and said, “We have sent a memorandum to the prime minister and demanded an investigation into the irregularities in the supply of COVID-19 items in Assam. The probe should find out all the malpractices by Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and her business partners.”
Meanwhile, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, refuting all claims, on Twitter, said, “A website called The Wire has come out with an unfounded accusation with regard to my supply of PPE kits to the National Health Mission. In the first week of the pandemic, not a single PPE kit was available in Assam.”
My statement. pic.twitter.com/kGvWeCTDjj
— RINIKI BHUYAN SHARMA (@rinikibsharma) June 1, 2022
She added, “Taking cognisance of the same, I reached out to a business acquaintance, and delivered around 1,500 PPE kits to the NHM with a lot of effort. Later on, I wrote to the NHM to treat the same as a part of my CSR.”