The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ministers under Sonia scanner

Guwahati, Jan. 2: At least three members of the Tarun Gogoi government are on the Congress high command's radar for alleged misdemeanours ranging from misappropriation of funds to a nexus with militants.

A source said the high command had already collected 'in-depth reports' on the three ministers from the state unit of the Congress.

'Madam Sonia Gandhi has made it clear that the performance of every Congress government and minister will be minutely monitored by the AICC,' a PCC leader said.

The general perception of the party leadership is that the chief minister is himself a 'clean man', but several ministers in his government are indulging in corruption and getting away with it.

'This is giving the government and the party a bad name,' the source said.

Several allegations have been levelled against the ministers, the most serious of these being the involvement of one of them in triggering the blast during the Independence Day function in Dhemaji.

Another accusation is misappropriation of funds and misuse of materials meant for flood relief.

The source said if the AICC finds an iota of truth in the accusations against the ministers, the chief minister would be forced to oust them from the government.

He said the party high command was carrying out its own assessment of the 'functioning and conduct' of these ministers before it reached any conclusion.

PCC leaders welcomed the AICC initiative to ensure a 'clean government', but said a few other members of the Gogoi ministry had managed to escape the high command's gaze despite there being similar allegations against them.

'The high command has not yet taken cognisance of allegations against certain ministers over their involvement in the crude oil theft case,' said a senior Congress functionary.

One of the charges under the scanner relates to a statement by an arrested Ulfa functionary, who had allegedly linked a senior minister with the August 15 blast triggered by the Ulfa at Dhemaji.

The minister's name was also linked to the abduction of BJP leader and businessman Pratul Deb in Hailakandi district.

Allegations have also been levelled regarding misappropriation of social welfare funds and rice meant for distribution under a District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) scheme.

Dispur handed over Deb's case to the CBI only recently, and that too under international pressure.

In the other cases, the chief minister had virtually given his ministers a clean chit.

Several senior ministers who were dropped from the Gogoi ministry when the government was being downsized are also reportedly exerting pressure on the high command to act against the 'tainted' ministers.

Among the ministers dropped were Sarat Borkataky and Bhubaneswar Kalita, who is now the PCC chief.

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