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APSC tainted, claims Kirip

Kirip Chaliha

Guwahati, July 18: Senior Congress leader Kirip Chaliha today said he was convinced about serious corruption plaguing the Assam Public Service Commission, thereby vindicating KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi's demand for a CBI inquiry into the commission's selection process.

Chaliha, a former MP, said he had broached the issue with chief minister Tarun Gogoi in New Delhi last week and the latter appreciated it.

"I am convinced there is serious corruption in the APSC. I have met officers and students who have complained about the existing system of recruitment by the APSC. At a personality development course I was invited to a few years back, when I asked students about joining the ACS, they simply said they didn't have the money to pay for the job. That is the public perception about the APSC," he told reporters at his Zoo Road residence here.

APSC is a constitutional body authorised to conduct examinations for recruitment to the state's civil services.

By raising the corruption issue, Chaliha has only made the case of those like Akhil Gogoi, who are trying to cleanse the APSC, strong, party insiders said. Akhil has been at the forefront of the demand for a thorough inquiry to cleanse the APSC. Yesterday, he had moved Gauhati High Court, seeking a stay on the appointment of 269 candidates in the Combined Competitive Examinations 2013 the results of which were declared recently.

Chaliha said he had requested Gogoi to find a way to change the public perception about APSC. "The evidence produced by Akhil Gogoi cannot be ignored. I support his call for an inquiry, even if it is a CBI inquiry. I have conveyed this to the CM. We need steps against corruption."

Asked if he suspected a Vyapam-like recruitment scam which has rocked Madhya Pradesh, Chaliha said it would be unfair to make a comparison. "Why compare with Vyapam which has claimed several lives. Aren't charges of corruption against the APSC enough to merit a probe as per law?" he asked.

Chaliha, a resident of Guwahati, today also raised issues plaguing the city - from securing the future of Cotton College to threat to the eco-sensitive Deepor Beel, rise in drug abuse and lack of a mental hospital, sparking speculation whether he was eyeing a Assembly seat in next year's election. He denied it.

"I have raised issues which we confront everyday. I have requested the chief minister, who said he was not aware about the issues, to do something. Secondly, how can I go on changing constituency?" he asked. The two-time MP had lost the Hajo Assembly election in 2011 and the Mangoldoi Lok Sabha seat in 2014.

Chaliha is widely seen as a person who backed dissident leader Himanta Biswa Sarma in the latter's bid to unseat Gogoi. "This is a perception. I am close to all three state leaders. In fact, I was entrusted to ensure unity among the warring camps. That happened with the face-to-face meeting among Gogoi, Anjan Dutta (PCC president), Sarma, C.P. Joshi (AICC general secretary in charge of Assam) and Rahul Gandhi (AICC vice-president). It is now up to Joshi and the state leaders to keep the party united. As far as I know, Sarma is not leaving the party. There is talk about floating a third front but I am not part of it," he said. Sources in the party said today's media interaction was nothing but an attempt by Chaliha to wash his hands off the infighting in case the dissidents decide to walk out of the party.

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