Monday, July 15, 2024
North East

Kejriwal planned to purchase PPE kits without tender in 2020: Assam CM

Guwahati, June 5: A day after threatening to file a criminal defamation case against the Delhi deputy CM over allegations of corruption in procurement of PPE kits, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Sunday claimed that his counterpart in the national capital offered to buy the medical equipment without floating any tender back in 2020.
Sarma tagged an old tweet by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in which he urged BJP MP Gautam Gambhir to arrange for PPE kits from anywhere “immediately”, after the former India cricketer had pledged a total of Rs 1 crore from his MP LAD fund for procurement of medical equipment.
“Delhi CM suo moto offered to buy PPE kits from anywhere without tender. Why?” Sarma tweeted.
“Does his Deputy CM think the CM is corrupt as he asked someone to arrange PPE kits from somewhere immediately, and said that Delhi Govt will buy them? No reference to any tender etc AAP leaders chose to contradict each other rather than fighting a crisis. People of Delhi are paying the price for this, he added.
Sarma also sought to defend his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, who has been facing accusations amid an alleged PPE kit scam, asserting that her action can be termed as “humanity” as she had tried to help the state by “contributing” in the fight against COVID-19 in 2020.
“The company in question wrote to Assam’s NHM stating that supply of around 1,500 PPE kits for Covid warriors must be treated as CSR contribution and hence, not a single rupee must be paid by Govt,” he said, referring to his wife’s company.
Sarma uploaded a letter purportedly written by a person named Utpal Baruah, of JCB Industries, owned by the CM’s wife, to the Mission Director of National Health Mission (NHM), Assam, in March 2020.
The letter claimed that it had donated 1,485 PPE kits to the NHM.
“Assam NHM duly acknowledged the same. Manish bhai (Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia), this is not corruption, it’s humanity. My wife hasn’t committed a crime, she tried to help Assam at the time of its biggest crisis,” Sarma said.
“Throwing muck at others will not be accepted. You will face legal consequences,” he said.
Sarma on Saturday had threatened to file a criminal defamation case against Sisodia for alleging corruption in Assam government giving contracts to his wife’s firms and son’s business partner to supply PPE kits above market rates when the pandemic was raging in the country in March 2020.
Sisodia, referring to media reports at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday, had said that while the Assam government procured PPE kits for Rs 600 a piece from other companies, Sarma gave urgent supply orders to the firms of his wife and son’s business partners for Rs 990 a piece.
On June 1, two digital media organisations, in a joint investigative report, claimed that the Assam government had placed four Covid-related emergency medical supply orders, most likely without following proper process.
Citing a series of Right to Information replies, the medial portals claimed that all the four orders, placed between March 18 and March 23 of 2020, were bagged by three firms owned by Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and the family’s business associate Ghanshyam Dhanuka.
The Assam CM’s wife later uploaded a statement on Twitter, refuting any wrongdoing in supplying PPE kits to the NHM, and asserting that she did not take a “single penny” for the medical equipment.
The opposition Congress, Raijor Dal and Assam Jatiya Parishad have separately demanded a high-level probe by a central agency into the alleged irregularities, when Sarma was the health minister in the previous BJP government in Assam. (PTI)