Guwahati: The Assam Congress on Monday accused the CBI of not taking action against state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma over his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
“The CBI is yet to take any action against Sarma and investigations against him have stopped after he joined the BJP,” Assam Pradesh Congress spokesman and former minister Pradyut Bordoloi told reporters here.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged on Sunday night that Sarma was involved with the chit fund scam, he said.
“He (Sarma) was investigated for his involvement in the scam while he was in Congress but after he joined the BJP, it stopped,” she said.
Bordoloi claimed that “Apart from Saradha, the BJP had earlier accused Sarma of being involved with the Louis Berger scam. A number of arrests were made in Goa in connection with this scam but no action has been taken in Assam”. “It seems Himanta has been cleared in all the cases after he joined the BJP,” he said.
The BJP had mentioned Sarma’s “involvement” in the Louis Berger case in the party’s manifesto during the 2014 Lok Sabha but “once he joined BJP, the party became silent and trained their guns at West Bengal”, Bordoloi said. “Himanta has a history of changing allegiance to save his skin. When TADA cases were slapped against him, he left the ULFA to join Congress and then joined the BJP to save himself from the Sarada and Louis Berger cases”, he added.
Himanta Biswa Sarma’s background
Himanta Biswa Sarma served as an INC MLA from the Jalukbari constituency in Assam from 2001 to 2015 and from May 2016 as a BJP member. A former member of the INC, Sarma joined the BJP in August 2015.
Sarma won the 2016 Assembly elections and was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister on 24 May 2016. The BJP leadership appointed him the convener of the newly constituted North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). The main objective of the alliance is all-round development of the Northeast and better coordination among the states and Centre, according to Ram Madhav, National General Secretary of BJP.
Himanta Biswa Sarma’s switch to the BJP is largely believed to be the greatest jolt the party ruling at the Centre has dealt to its archrival in Assam. The BJP’s victory in the Assam last Assembly election is credited largely to Sarma’s strategy. He was earlier close to INC president Rahul Gandhi and a trusted Congress leader in the north-eastern State.
In an interview to a newspaper after engineering the BJP’s victory in Assam, Himanta had said, “… my prescription for the Congress was that they be hard on illegal immigration, take on (AIUDF chief Badruddin) Ajmal. They had done that in the last couple of elections but not this time. If they had, the result would not have been like this. Congress wanted to play Muslim communal politics on Assam, that is why they suffered this fate.”
Saradha trail up to Assam
In July 2015 Louis Berger International Inc, a New Jersey-based construction management company, had told a US court that it bribed government officials in India to win the contract for project management consultancy in a water supply project in Guwahati.
The then Congress government led by Tarun Gogoi had ordered a CID probe but the Gauhati High Court later ordered a CBI inquiry into the allegations.