November 26, 2014 7:53:39 pm
The CBI on Wednesday grilled Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s former health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for eight long hours in its special crime branch office in Kolkata, but the ex-minister insisted he was not involved in any way in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scandal.
Sarma however announced he would not contest in any election till he was absolved in this case by the CBI. “I will not contest any election till the CBI absolves me from this case or files its chargesheet,” Sarma said. Assembly election in Assam is due in March-April 2016. “I will also ask my party not to nominate me,” he added.
Sarma also claimed he was now “much relaxed” after having deposed before the CBI. “You can see from my body language how much I am relaxed now,” he said. “Nothing has happened the way you people were expecting or imagining,” he claimed.
Sarma, who had fallen out with Gogoi and resigned in July this year, entered the CBI office at around 9:45 AM today and emerged only around 5:45 PM. But he told media persons waiting outside that he was quizzed only for about 90 minutes, and that too in three separate sessions by three different officers. “I was asked questions by an Inspector for about 35 minutes, by an SP for 20-25 minutes and by a Joint Director for 30-35 minutes. That is all,” he claimed.
“There is a deep political conspiracy against me. I told the CBI that Sudipto Sen had met me only once. I had no monetary relation whatsoever with him. I also told them that I did attend the inaugural function of a biscuit factory (in Dhubri, owned by Saradha), but that was purely out of courtesy. I happened to be there on some government work when I heard that a CPI(M) MLA from West Bengal was there, and so I went there out of courtesy. Sudipto Sen was not there in that function,” Sarma told the media on emerging from the CBI office.
Sarma also claimed that he had become “weak” since Tarun Gogoi’s son entered politics. “I have become weak since Gaurav Gogoi entered politics in 2011. Before that I as a powerful person. This letter (purportedly by Sen) was written in 2011. It was around that time that the chief minister had started disliking me,” Sarma claimed.
Sarma, who has been continuously denying having been summoned by the CBI until he landed up in the CBI office today morning, finally admitted that he was asked to appear on November 24, but he sought a different date. “I called up the CBI requesting a date earlier to November 24. They suggested December 1 or 2, but I insisted I come today,” he said.
When media persons asked him how close he was to singer-filmmaker Sadananda Gogoi (arrested by CBI in the Saradha case on September 12), Sarma said he (Gogoi) was close to many people including owners and editors of some newspapers and TV news channels in Guwahati. He particularly mentioned names of NewsTime Assam TV channel owner Jayanta Barua and DY365 television editor-in-chief Manoj Goswami and said, “Why only me? He (Sadananda Gogoi) was close to so many others like Jayanta Barua and Manoj Goswami,” the ex-minister said.
About a letter purportedly written by Saradha chief Sudipto Sen where his name was also mentioned, the former health minister said, “I am 100 per cent sure this letter was not written by Sudipto Sen. My name would not have been there if he (Sen) had written it,” Sarma said. (ends)
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