Thursday, April 18, 2024

PHE Ministers under fire


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The Meghalaya Assembly on June 28 rejected by 19.36 votes a censure motion against the Ministers holding PHE portfolio for their alleged involvement in the swindling of several crore of rupees, but not before the House witnessed some scathing frontal attacks from the opposition.

The treasury bench was fully stretched to defend the two Ministers after the Opposition launched a two hours blitzkrieg. The Chief Minister, Captain Sangma conceded that “because of some difficulties” there had been “some delay” in ranking action by the Govt. There have been huge irregularities “nobody denies it.” He added “if any of my colleague is found guilty, I will not spare him.”

Capt Sangma appealed to the Opposition to depose before the Rynjah Committee with “more solid proof & evidence” to substantiate their charges.

Mr Salseng C Marak brushed aside the charges by saying “I do not accept that I am directly responsible.” Regarding the issue of slips, he said “my stand is still the same – the slips are in no way intended to convey orders.”

Mr Nihon Ksih denied that he was sitting over files. He said the file was being disposed of in “a normal way”. He flatly denied all charges against him, but did not reason it out.

Earlier, during the debate, Mr P R Kyndiah charged the two Ministers of concealing information from the Chief Minister. (The CM made an amendment to his earlier statement that he came to know of the affairs from the Opposition MLAs; he said that he had sketchy knowledge about it before the MLAs met him on May 5 last.) He said that the Minister were responsible for the irregularities since they did not arrest the expenditure even after being enlightened about the whole matter. He said “the totality of the fact is that they are involved.”

Mr B B Lyngdoh said that they were “guilty of corruption.” The Ministers were in connivance with the suppliers. He said it was not an act of help but favouritism to issue slips in favour of certain suppliers.

Mr E Bareh (MDF) felt that that the censure motion were an act of political mudslinging. Dr B K Roy said it was the “cumulative effect” of the past and not “a creation overnight”. Mr K R Khan (MDF) said there was no evidence of the involvement of the Ministers, the motive behind the chits would become clear on completion of enquiry. Mr B M Lanong (MUPP) said that the Govt could take action against the officers and suppliers, but did not act against the Ministers who had actually triggered off the whole thing. Dr P Pakem said the Minister of State had favoured two of his political supporters by giving them huge supply orders. He said that the Ministers had violated the Constitution by showing “favour and affection” to certain section Mr W Syiemiong alleged that the Ministers did not check the reputation and bonafides of the suppliers before recommending them.

Mr Chamberlin Marak (MDF) charged the Opposition of entering into a “witch-hunting spree” and “character assassination”.


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