Assam Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on Monday appeared before a court here in connection with a defamation suit filed against him by his former lieutenant and present state BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Sarma had slammed a Rs 100-crore suit in the court of Civil Judge No 1 after Gogoi allegedly said that he (Sarma) was an accused in the Saradha and Louis Berger scandals. “I have never been named an accused as alleged,” Sarma asserted.
Gogoi, on the other hand, said he appeared in the court because he respected the judiciary. “He (Sarma) had sought an injunction from the court to stop me from saying anything about him. I am happy the court has not issued any injunction. But since there is an allegation against me, I will fight,” Gogoi, who was accompanied by a large number of Congress leaders and workers to the court premises, said. The court fixed February 8 as the next date of hearing.
Gogoi maintained that he had never accused Sarma of being involved in any scandal and that he had only referred to such allegations made by others.
“There is an allegation against him (Sarma) made by Sudipto Sen (of Saradha). There are allegations made against him by the BJP that he was named in the Louis Berger scam. Why didn’t he file a suit against the BJP leaders?” Gogoi asked.
Saying that criticism was always part of politics, the octogenarian chief minister said, “Look how some people always mimic me. One TV channel has been airing mimicry on me for years. But I never complained that I had been defamed. In a democracy, anybody can criticise others.”
Sarma, once the most trusted lieutenant of Gogoi, however, rejoiced after taking the chief minister to court. “Today, the law has forced Tarun Gogoi to appear before the honourable court. In April, will force him to appear in the people’s court and pay for his misdeeds,” Sarma later tweeted.
Sarma’s lawyer said that the CM had, in New Delhi on December 15, said Sarma was an accused in the Saradha and Louis Berger scams.