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Himanta Biswa Sarma : Scamster to 'Lotus Star', blots on Indian Democracy
Anirban Mitra
Himanta Biswa Sarma : Scamster to 'Lotus Star', blots on Indian Democracy
PHOTO : Sudip Barman's Godfather Himanta Biswa Sarma on BJP joining rally Aug 7,2017

Assam’s Finance Minister cum de-facto Deputy Chief Minister in BJP Govt, former Congress Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s past filled with mega scams to endless corruptions which no Minister in Northeast India could even match in coming decades. From direct involvements in Sarada Chit Fund scam, multi million dollar Louis Berger scam, terrorist group ULFA’s fund raisings to thousands of crores scams revolve around Himanta Biswa Sarma against whom all these allegations are labeled by none other than Assam BJP’s former Chief Siddartha Bhattacharya in a released booklet in 2015. CBI grilled Himanta multiple times in Kolkata and Guwahati for direct involvement in Sarada Chit Fund scam when this scamster Minister was part of Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet in Assam.

Just before Assam Assembly election, Himanta jumped into BJP so that all corruption cases comes to halt. 

Unfortunately in 2017, same Himanta Biswa Sarma turned godfather for Sudip Barman & Co as Barman brigade finally joined saffron party. Father & Son duo Samir Barman, Sudip Barman’s close proximity with Manik Sarkar and their secret deals destabilized main opposition parties Congress and Trinamool in Tripura.Barman family not only destabilized Sudhir Ranjan Majumder’s Congress Ministry in 1989-93 era but destroyed Tripura Trinamool so that Manik Sarkar led CPI-M’s no strong opposition remains in State.

Criminals always bond as fellow-brothers so its no surprise that dumping ethics & principles of Narendra Modi’s transparent governance, these tainted politicians Himanta, Sudip now clubbed together so that they can loot in tandem in Northeast in coming years.

Himanta and Sudip no different as both are masters of backstabbing their own parties Congress in exchange of cash and freezing corruption charges.

Two years ago, on July 21, 2015, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released a booklet at a meeting of party MPs in New Delhi with the title ‘Water Supply Scam 2010 in Goa and Guwahati’.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP booklet alleged that Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was the minister in charge of the Guwahati Development Department (GDD) in what was then the Congress government in Assam, was a “key suspect” in the scam related to a Guwahati water supply project which involved services hired from the American multinational construction management company, Louis Berger International Inc.

The provocation for the BJP booklet was a case filed against the company on July 7, 2015 by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Executives from the New Jersey-based company told a US court that they and their consortium partners had – between 1998 and 2010 – paid bribes worth $976,630 to unnamed “officials” in the Assam and Goa governments to corner water management consultancy projects.

Among similar payments made to unnamed “officials” in Indonesia and Kuwait, the amount mentioned by the company as bribes paid in India was the highest. As per US court documents, Louis Berger had paid $210,000 in Indonesia and $71,000 in Kuwait. Though it bribed “officials” in Vietnam too, the total payments involved were not mentioned.

The US DoJ reportedly said Louis Berger would pay $17.1 million as criminal penalty to resolve charges of bribes given to win government contracts in India and the other three countries.

The BJP booklet “quoted generously” from the 11-page chargesheet filed by US prosecutors against the company, claiming that “Louis Berger maintained a detailed diary and account of bribery (made) to Indian officials”. Though the chargesheet mentioned “officials”representing the state governments, noted that an agent of a company had “paid a minister” and didn’t name any individual in particular, the BJP took a public stand against Sarma as he was then the man in charge of theAssam project.

Guwahati Municipal Corporation Development Authority head Dhiren Barua was quoted in the media as saying the authority “was not involved” in the selection of companies and this was done by GDD.” Though Sarma denied the BJP’s charges, Barua said that when Louis Berger was selected as a consultant, “Himanta Biswa Sarma was the GDD minister and Ashish Kumar Bhutani was the GDD secretary. The selection took place between 2008-2009.”

Speaking to reporters after attending the BJP MPs meet in New Delhi in 2015, Sarbananda Sonowal, who then the Union sports and youth affairs minister, wondered why Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi was “silent on the issue” while Goa chief minister and BJP leader Laxminath Parsekar had already demanded a CBI inquiry into the Goa part of the “scam”.

Though by then, the rumour that Sarma had fallen out with Gogoi in a power struggle and had reached out to the BJP was gaining wind, Siddharta Bhattacharyya, who was BJP state president at the time, reportedly said on the same day in New Delhi that his party’s charges against Sarma in the booklet had “literally put an end” to that speculation.

Himanta Biswa Sarma joined BJP, cut a deal with Amit Shah to help BJP’s win in exchange of putting all corruption cases in cold storage.

Of course, Sarma joined the BJP barely a month after BJP Chief Siddharth Bhattacharyya made that claim – on August 29, 2015. Sonowal is chief minister of Assam and Sarma is now a senior minister with multiple portfolios in the state government, including the GDD portfolio where the alleged scam took place. Sarma is widely believed to be “number two” in the state hierarchy. He has also become a key strategist for the BJP as it seeks to politically conquer the entire northeast.

When the BJP won the May 2016 Assam  assembly polls, people in the state assumed the Louis Berger case would be thoroughly probed. Since this was the most high-profile, multi-crore allegation of corruption against the erstwhile Congress government and the BJP had been demanding a CBI probe into it, quick results were expected. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Over the last few months, however, the Assam CID, which is probing the case, has failed thrice to update the Gauhati high court which is overseeing the investigation as part of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a social activist, Bhaben Handique.

For inexplicable reasons, a simple video conference that the investigating agency wishes to conduct with the US Department of Justice has been held up for months on end. And approval from the state home department for investigators to pay a visit to Washington DC to collect evidentiary documents on the case, as per the US government’s invitation, has also been hanging fire.

Also, even though on May 9, the prime minister’s office (PMO) forwarded a letter written by petitioner Handique to Modi seeking his “urgent intervention” in the case, action is yet to be taken by the state government to speed up the investigation.

Himanta Biswa Sarma also minted hundreds of crores from Sarada Chit Fund scam as this Minister in Tarun Gogoi’s Congress Govt was extremely close with Sarada MD Sudipto Sen.

Even Himanta Biswa was allegedly involved in framing former Assam DGP Shankar Barua as DGP shot himself to death after the CBI searched his residence in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.

Apart from that, before becoming Minister, anti-Bengali communal Himanta Biswa functioned as fundraiser of underground terrorist organization ULFA, which terrorized lakhs of non-Assamese businessmen, murdered civilians and ran a parallel government in Assam.

BJP sidelined Assam's former BJP Chief, honest Siddhartha Bhattacharya to accomodate crimimals like Himanta Biswa Sarma, so question aise whether Amit Shah will do same for Tripura by replacing honest & clean politicians in exchange of Barman & Co ?

Needless to say, against the wishes of majority of State BJP functionaries and supporters, Manik’s trusted spy Sudip Barman’s arrival into saffron party may cost BJP heavily in 2018 Assembly election.

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