Gogoi ‘will resign if any minister involved in scam’

Guwahati, Feb 19 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Friday said he would resign if any of his ministers was found involved in a multi-million rupees scam involving government funds, even as the opposition burnt his effigies and sought his resignation.

There is a political storm in Assam after the local media picked up a story carried by The Week magazine alleging that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) named seven ministers and former governor Lieutenant General (Retired) Ajai Singh of being involved in a Rs.1,000-crore scam of swindling central funds meant for the North Cachar Hills district between 2004 and 2009.

‘The NIA never sought permission to interrogate the ministers and so The Week report is absolutely false…I will resign if any of my ministers are involved,’ Gogoi told reporters.

‘We would take legal action if The Week fails to prove the charges,’ he said.

The Assam government, in early 2009, sought a probe and New Delhi entrusted the NIA to investigate the alleged politician-militant-bureaucrat nexus in the North Cachar Hills district.

The NIA has since filed a chargesheet against 14 people, although no ministers were named in that report.

‘The North Cachar Hills district Autonomous Council was ruled by the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) and their alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the period for which the probe took place…so if at all there are any problems it is the ASDC-BJP who are responsible,’ Assam government spokesperson and health minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma said.

Sarma is among the seven ministers named in The Week report that said the chief minister refused permission to the NIA to interrogate them.

The main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) burnt the effigy of the chief minister and demanded his resignation.

‘A chief minister who tries to protect his ministers for swindling government funds has no right to stay in office,’ AGP leader Atul Bora said.

The AGP threatened to demonstrate in front of the Raj Bhawan Saturday as part of a state-wide agitation against the government.

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