“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
Of late BJP MP from Tezpur Ram Prashad Sharma has exposed the real helm of affairs behind “fight against corruption” drive of the BJP-led government in Assam under the leadership of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal during his 16-month regime. A senior BJP leader and lawyer Sharma told a local news channel that state irrigation minister Ranjit Dutta has the habit of taking 10 per cent commission from each contractor for giving him contract works in the department. Pradesh BJP is caught in a bitter war of words after the remark of Sharma went viral in the social media. Sharma went on saying several other ministers are also taking bribe for allotting works to the contractors. “One of my boys too recently got a contract by paying 10 per cent commission to the minister. There are a few other ministers too who take commissions. Our chief minister, who is known for his honest and upright qualities, must inquire into this practice. Our government came to power in Assam in 2016 on the promise of corruption free governance,” Sharma was seen saying in the channel. Notably, the minister Dutta landed in a controversy in March last, after Anti-Corruption and Vigilance wing of Assam Police had arrested Kujendra Doley, secretary in the irrigation department, after catching him red-handed while accepting a bribe in his office chamber. The police had also recovered Rs 45 lakh in cash from various drawers and almirahs of his office chamber. Doley was released from jail after six-months as the police have failed to frame charges against him in connection with the case.
While opposition Congress has sought resignation of the minister, several organisations including All Assam Students Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) have asked the government to institute a thorough probe into the allegations. Even as the allegation went viral, chief minister Sonowal not only asked MP Sharma to come out with documentary proof (against the minister), but also said that he would take “strong action” if such proof was made available to him. “Our government has taken a zero-tolerance policy against corruption. If RP Sharma has any proof, then I will take strong action. We will not compromise with corruption. If there is any proof against the chief minister, then he will also have to face the consequences,” Sonowal said.
On the other hand, minister Dutta, whose assembly segment Behali is part of Sharma’s Lok Sabha constituency Tezpur, flatly denied the allegations and instead complained that the MP was in the habit of making baseless statements that had affected the image of the party and the government as a whole. However, Sharma’s reaction to the statement of the minister is yet to be received. But the question is why the chief minister asked for proof instead of ordering an in-depth investigation into the case. What was his compulsion? Altogether 56 government officials have been arrested on corruption and graft cases in the state since he came into power. All the political leaders involved in corruption and graft cases have been allowed to go scot free, while arrests were made selectively with some paradoxical compulsions. The most intriguing question is does Sonowal allow his ministers to make wealth to any extent knowingly at the cost of the government officials? Nobody wants that politicians involved in making money through illegal means should be allowed to go off the hook and investigations should not be used selectively or with compulsions beyond the comprehension of commoners.