The Congress on Tuesday demanded the sacking of junior home minister Kiren Rijiju for his alleged role in what it said was a Rs 450-crore scam in a hydropower project in his home state Arunachal Pradesh.
Rijiju refuted the allegations and said those spreading lies against him will be “thrashed with shoes” in Arunachal Pradesh.
“Jo news plant kar rahe hain wo hamare yehan ayyenge to joota khayenge (Those who planted the story will be beaten up with shoes when they will come to our area),” the Tawang MP told reporters.
The main Opposition party released an audio tape that purportedly contains a conversation between the minister’s cousin Goboi Rijuju, a contractor, and the chief vigilance officer of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) Satish Verma.
Rijiju said contractor Gaboi Rijiju was not related to him but part of the same Rijiju clan and also from his village.
“In our village we call everyone cousin, however, they need not be necessarily a blood relation,” Rijiju told news agency ANI on Tuesday.
“The contracts and payments were awarded when Congress was in the Centre, they have to apologise,” he added.
Verma, a Gujarat IPS officer, was part of a three-member panel that probe the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan in Gujarat in 2004 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister. Verma had said Ishrat’s killing was a “premeditated murder”.
In the tape, Goboi purportedly asks Verma to clear payments related to a power project and in return Kiren Rijuju will help in his promotion.
“Rijuju’s role is under a cloud of suspicion. He should be sacked or asked to resign,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
The Congress also dragged Union power minister Piyush Goyal in the matter and threatened to raise the issue in and outside Parliament. The Congress also demanded a probe into the matter.
The alleged corruption has given a fresh handle to the opposition to attack the BJP-led NDA government, which is already facing the heat over the November 8 demonetisation move.
In a 129-page report to the CBI and the union power ministry, Verma alleged corruption in the construction of two dams for the 600 MW Kameng hydro electric project. He alleged an elaborate conspiracy involving contractors, NEEPCO officials and the West Kameng district administration to defraud NEEPCO and the government of funds to the tune of Rs 450 crore.
Verma was pulled up by NEEPCO for “unauthorised absence” and transferred to the CRPF in Tripura soon after his report.
NEEPCO comes under the power ministry.
West Kameng, the site of the project, falls in Arunachal West which is the parliamentary constituency of Rijiju.
The CBI has made two “surprise checks” but no FIR has been registered yet, reports said.
(With agency inputs)