Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday filed a defamation case against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia over his remarks accusing the former of “brazen corruption” under the “pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The AAP leader alleged that the Assam government had given contracts to companies owned by Sarma’s wife and son’s business partners for a supply of PPE kits above the going market rates during the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Sarma was then the state’s health minister.
Sarma’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, has already filed a Rs 100 crore civil defamation case against Sisodia.
Sisodia’s statements were based on a series of reports by Delhi-based news website The Wire, in collaboration with Guwahati-based portal The Cross Current published earlier this week, which alleged that companies linked to Sarma’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and his “close” business associates received contracts for emergency medical supplies (including PPE kits and hand sanitisers) at a much higher price than the going rate, and without following a proper tender process. The allegations were based on RTI replies from the state’s National Health Mission (NHM).
Sisodia had said that at the time when the orders were placed, the Assam government was already buying PPE kits at Rs 600 from another company. “But the companies owned by his wife and son’s business partners got the contract at Rs 990 a piece,” he alleged. “The BJP talks a lot about corruption of Opposition politicians, but I want to ask them if they consider this (Sarma’s case) corruption or not,” Sisodia said, referring to the recent arrest of AAP leader Satyendar Jain by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged disproportionate wealth case as “bogus.”
Following the accusations, Sarma hit back at Sisodia, saying he would file a defamation case against him. Defending his wife, Sarma said that she had “donated” the kits, and did not “take a single penny”. “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” Sarma tweeted.