‘My wife didn’t take a single penny for PPE’: Assam CM rebuts AAP’s graft charges
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has denied the allegations of corruption in relation to the purchase of PPE kits, levelled against him by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Accusing Sarma of awarding a contract for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits during the COVID-19 pandemic to a company owned by his wife, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday alleged that the equipment were bought at inflated rates.
The allegations came hours after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hinted at a massive ‘expose’ related to a senior BJP leader in a rebuttal to the allegations of money laundering levelled against his minister Satyendar Jain.
“Himanta Biswa Sarma awarded the contract to his wife’s company. He paid ₹990 for the PPE kits while other were purchased at ₹600 a piece from another company on the same day. This is a huge crime,” Sisodia said, asking if the BJP instead of slapping “made-up” cases has the courage to take action against its own leader.
The allegations were based on a report published by The Wire a few days ago.
Sarma rubbished the allegations, stating that his wife had instead donated 1500 PPE kit to the government when Assam was reeling under COVID.
“At a time when the entire country was facing the worst pandemic in over 100 years, Assam hardly had any PPE kits. My wife took the courage of coming forward and donating around 1500 free of cost to the govt to save lives. She didn’t take a single penny,” he tweeted.
In a string of tweets, Sarma also accused Sisodia of turning his back when the former was calling him for the evacuation of Assamese people in Delhi during the pandemic.
“While you Mr Manish Sisodia at that point of time showed a completely different side. You refused my multiple calls to help Assamese people stuck in Delhi. I can never forget one instance when I had to wait 7 days just to get an Assamese COVID victim’s body from Delhi’s mortuary (sic),” Sarma tweeted.
Sarma reiterated his claims in an interview with India Today, stating that his family has never profited out of PPE kits and rather donated them when a communication breakdown stopped made it difficult for emergency equipment to reach the northeastern state.
He dared those making accusations against him and his wife to check their accounts and prove the same.
“Inspite of Assam government duly acknowledging that this was a gift and we are thankful…that letter my wife has already mentioned in her tweet…you can make any kind of account-checking whether that company has been paid a single paisa from the state government…If anybody can prove that, I’ll be very happy,” he said.
Accusing of Sisodia of defamation, Sarma alleged that the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister himself had purchased PPE kits without tender.
Earlier, Sarma’s wife Rinki Bhuyan Sharma in a statement on Twitter, had called the allegations made in The Wire’s report as “unfounded.”
“In the first week of the pandemic, not a single PPE kit was available in Assam. Taking cognizance 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 with a lot of effort. Later on, I wrote to the NHM to treat the same as a part of my CSR,” she said attaching an acknowledgment receipt of the transaction.
My statement. pic.twitter.com/kGvWeCTDjj
— RINIKI BHUYAN SHARMA (@rinikibsharma) June 1, 2022