Gogoi asks AGP to seek Prafulla Mahanta’s resignation

Guwahati, Feb 21 (Calcutta Tube) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Sunday took the charge to the opposition camp by asking the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) to demand the resignation of their founder president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta who was earlier charged in a multi-million rupees letter of credit (LC) scam in the state.

‘Let the AGP demand the resignation of Prafulla Mahanta as it was during his tenure that the LC scam was investigated by the CBI…Why should I resign as there are no evidence and mention by the NIA (National Investigation Agency) about seven of my ministers being involved in the financial scam as mentioned in The Week report?’ the chief minister said, talking to journalists.

Gogoi was reacting to the AGP demand for his resignation after The Week newsmagazine carried a report that the NIA named seven of his ministers in a Rs.1,000-crore scam involving swindling of central funds meant for the North Cachar Hills district between 2004 to 2009.

‘No NIA officials ever asked my permission to interrogate seven ministers and even in their chargesheet no ministers were named…The allegations are false and politically motivated and hence there is no question of my resigning,’ the chief minister said.

The Week report triggered a political storm with the AGP seeking a probe into the matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and sought Gogoi’s resignation.

‘Why should I hand the case to the CBI when there are no evidence…Let the AGP demand Mahanta’s resignation immediately as the CBI in 1998 sought the then Governor S. Sinha’s permission to prosecute Mahanta,’ he said.

The CBI during its investigations found that private contractors, in collusion with government officials and politicians, had drawn huge amounts from the state treasury by submitting false bills to the veterinary department. They collected money from the treasury on the basis of letters of credit issued to them by officials for bogus purchases made without proper sanction.

‘The demand made by the AGP is baseless and fictitious and I would like to make it clear that the people of Assam would defeat the AGP in the 2011 assembly elections too,’ he added.

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