Sonowal’s anti-corruption drive nets big and small fish in Assam | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Sonowal’s anti-corruption drive nets big and small fish in Assam

The BJP government’s anti-corruption drive in Assam has netted its biggest catch so far with the arrest of the chairman of the state’s public service commission, Rakesh Paul.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2016 20:50 IST
Utpal Parashar
Sarbananda Sonowal has also ordered an investigation into a scam of Rs 2,250 crores in which Rs 150 crores were allegedly siphoned off during last 15 years of Congress rule.
Sarbananda Sonowal has also ordered an investigation into a scam of Rs 2,250 crores in which Rs 150 crores were allegedly siphoned off during last 15 years of Congress rule.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

The BJP government’s anti-corruption drive in Assam has netted its biggest catch so far with the arrest of the chairman of the state’s public service commission Rakesh Paul.

For eight years Paul, a notary who first became a member of the Assam public service commission (APSC) and later its chairman, decided the fate of thousands of job aspirants in Assam.

But his luck ran out last week when police arrested him for alleged involvement in a cash-for-job scam. Paul’s appointment in December 2013 was approved by the previous Congress government led by Tarun Gogoi.

On Saturday, police arrested a deputy controller of examination of APSC, taking the number of those arrested to five.

The scam came to light following the arrest of an engineer from the town and country planning department who had taken Rs 10 lakh allegedly on behalf of Paul from a doctor for a government job. There have been many allegations against Paul over the past several years.

“We have told the police to conduct investigations into the APSC scam without buckling under any political pressure. No tainted person will be spared,” finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters.

The Congress has termed the government’s move as something akin to witch-hunt. The party said it welcomes the anti-corruption drive, but insists on impartial investigation and action based on proof.

“The BJP-led government, which came to power by raising expectations sky high, has failed on all fronts. The so called anti-corruption drive seems to be a tactic to divert attention from issues like price rise and unemployment,” senior Congress leader and former power minister Pradyut Bordoloi told HT.

Paul and the others nabbed in the APSC scam are not alone. Since coming to power in May, the Sarbananda Sonowal government has launched an anti-corruption drive that has trapped many government officials.

On Friday, a junior official of the social welfare department was arrested by anti-corruption officials after Rs 5 lakh of unaccounted money was allegedly found in his car.

The official’s arrest came days after Sonowal ordered an investigation into a scam of Rs 2,250 crores in which Rs 150 crores were allegedly siphoned off during last 15 years of Congress rule in the name of 390 fake ‘angandwadi’ centres.

Former social welfare minister Akon Bora insists that nothing irregular happened in the department while he was in charge.

“Let the government prove the charges. No irregularities happened in social welfare department during my tenure,” Bora said.

The anti-corruption drive started weeks after the first BJP-led government took charge in the state after 15 years of Congress rule.

One of the first major catches was a divisional forest officer in July. A sum of Rs 2 crore in cash and various wild animal parts including tiger and deer skins were seized from him.

The state government is also planning to plug manpower shortage in the vigilance and anti-corruption wing of Assam Police. Plans are also underway to enact a stringent law to target corrupt government employees.