Union Minister Kiren Rijiju must resign because there is “audio proof” and other evidence that he facilitated a 450-crore scam embedded in a huge hydro-electric project in his home state of Arunachal Pradesh, the opposition Congress said today.
Earlier this morning, Mr Rijiju, who is the junior Home Minister vociferously denied the charges, snapping “Those who are planting this news, if they come where we are, they will get hit with shoes. Is it corruption to try and help your people?” He also told NDTV that the Prime Minister’s Office has not sought any explanation from him.
A relative of his named Goboi Rijiju was a sub-contractor hired for the hydro-electric project. The Congress has released an audio file of Goboi Rijiju talking in December 2015 to a senior anti-corruption official with the state-run power firm that was building two dams. Satish Verma, the Chief Vigilance Officer with the firm, had said months earlier in a report that the government was in danger of being gypped of nearly 450 crores, mainly because it was being presented with inflated and fictitious bills for the removal in trucks of large stones and boulders for the construction of a dam in Mr Rijiju’s constituency.
The Congress claims that an audio recording of Mr Verma’s conversation with Goboi Rijiju has the minister’s relative stating that the BJP is to come to power soon in the state. The Congress government collapsed weeks later with the centre placing the state under direct rule; the Congress, which has accused the BJP of using its power at the centre to evict its government says the CD proves its claim because Mr Rijiju’s cousin knew of things to come. NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the audio recording.
In November 2015, Mr Rijiju wrote to the Power Ministry asking for the stalled bills – red-flagged for corruption – to be cleared. He told NDTV today “I just asked the Power Minister to look into the matter,” adding that his intent was to help people in his constituency who complained that their payments were blocked. “Most of the payments were made before we (BJP) formed government,” the minister said, stating that he asked “only for the remaining amount” to be cleared.