Guwahati: In what has come as serious embarrassment for the 16-month-old BJP-led government in Assam, party MP Ram Prasad Sharma accused irrigation and handloom minister Ranjit Dutta of taking 10 per cent commission in all contracts in his departments.
As the allegation went viral, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked his party MP on Wednesday to present him with evidence to prove the charges. “I will take very strong action if charges are proved by Mr R.P. Sharma. My government has been following the zero tolerance policy against corruption and will continue to do so,” Mr Sonowal said.
The minister, Mr Dutta, has also refuted the charges and dared Mr Sharma to prove the charges.
Mr Sharma, a well-known lawyer-turned-MP, was caught on camera saying that several ministers are in the habit of taking commissions, and added that he was sure Mr Dutta was one of them.
“One of my boys recently got a contract by paying 10 per cent commission to the minister. There are a few other ministers too who take commissions. Our chief minister, who is known for his honest and upright qualities, must inquire into this practice. We came to power by promising a corruption-free government,” Mr Sharma was seen as saying in a video captured by a local news channel, which described it as a sting operation.
The BJP MP’s remarks have provoked angry reaction from other ministers too. Assam forest minister Parmilla Rani Brahma told reporters that Mr Sharma is in the habit of sending requests for transfers and posting. “We may try to oblige the BJP MP in a case or two, but it becomes very difficult for us to oblige them in all the requests of transfer and postings,” said Ms Brahma, adding that the MP’s comments seem to be “reactionary and out of frustration”.
“There is no commission raj during this government. It has come to an end completely under the leadership of Mr Sonowal,” she asserted.
Mr Dutta was in the news in March this year when the anti-corruption and vigilance cell of the Assam police had arrested Kujendra Doley, a secretary in the irrigation department headed by Mr Dutta. He was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe in his office. The police had also recovered `45 lakh in cash from his office chamber.