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North East

Charges against Sonowal, Himanta to be probed if ‘Grand Alliance’ forms govt in Assam: Baghel

Bhupesh Bhagel 1

Guwahati, February 27: The Congress-led ‘Grand Alliance’, if voted to power in Assam, will investigate all corruption allegations against the BJP government and its ministers, including CM Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, said Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

The senior Congress leader and a close confidante of Rahul Gandhi has been appointed as the observer by the All India Congress Committee for its Assam unit for the upcoming state Assembly polls, scheduled in March-April.
“Obviously we will investigate the charges. Actions will be taken as per Constitution and the law,” Baghel told PTI in an interview when asked if corruption allegations against the incumbent will be probed if the ‘Grand Alliance’ comes to power.
He, however, said the investigation will not be carried out with a “revengeful attitude” against the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) members.
“A wrong is always a wrong. All corruption allegations will be evaluated and probed. Constitution was enacted when our party was in power. We follow Constitution and do not have any personal grudge against anyone. If someone has done anything wrong, then strict action will be followed,” Baghel said.
The Chhattisgarh chief minister alleged that his Assam counterpart is “directly involved” in running syndicates in almost every important sector such as cattle, coal, fish, egg and betel nut.
“Sarbananda Sonowal is running syndicates. He was involved in syndicates before becoming the CM and continued it after assuming power. He is directly involved in syndicates and under his protection it is happening,” Baghel alleged.
Pointing towards his former party colleague Sarma, the senior Congress leader said BJP had levelled innumerable allegations of corruption against the Assam finance minister when he was a part of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet.
“The moment he joined the BJP, all his sins were washed away. Why CBI did not investigate him in the last five years (in Saradha chit fund scam)?
“This is BJP’s tactics of first threatening and then taking him into the party. This is the trend in the entire country and BJP is doing it with everyone. Those get scared, join them and then get protection,” Baghel claimed.
He alleged that Sarma joined the BJP from Congress to get free of Saradha chit fund and Louis Berger bribery cases.
Baghel, who has made four trips to Assam since last month to oversee the Congress preparations for the polls, has been very vocal about the corruption allegations against the BJP government, especially against Sonowal.
The Congress, which was in power for 15 years in Assam since 2001, has formed a ‘Grand Alliance’ with AIUDF, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) to fight the upcoming Assembly election against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Of the total 126 seats, elections to 47, mostly in Upper Assam, will be held on March 27, while 39 in Barak Valley and Central Assam will go to polls on April 1 and voting in the remaining 40 seats of Lower Assam will be held on April 6.

The 2016 elections in Assam gave a fractured mandate and no party got an absolute majority. The Congress had won 26 seats, while the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) bagged 13.
The BJP became the single largest party with 60 MLAs, while its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) had won 14 and 12 seats, respectively.
The ruling coalition also had the support of an Independent MLA. (PTI)