The alleged misuse of the Focus money by NPP legislators and candidates has raised more controversy in the State.
Former MLA and UDP candidate for the upcoming Assembly elections from South Tura constituency John Leslee K. Sangma today sought public clarification from Chief Minister Conrad Sangma regarding the amount of Rs 5000 being given in the name of Meghalaya Basin Management Agency as Focus grant to the agricultural producers of Meghalaya as initial mobilisation fund to each member of the producer group.
Sangma said that Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla during his recent visit to Garo Hills had stated that the money which is being distributed was in fact the money sanctioned by the Union government where the actual amount to be disbursed for each producer was actually R 6000.
“Barla claimed that the Chief Minister has changed the nomenclature of the welfare scheme to ‘Focus’ and had given only Rs 5000 to the producers instead of Rs 6000 and had kept Rs 1000 to buy the votes during the elections,” Sangma said.
“This is a very serious allegation because if it’s true and if we go by the statement of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma that the money earmarked for this flagship initiative (Focus) is Rs 500 crore where 4.5 lakh producers will be the beneficiaries then the money which will go missing will be to the tune of Rs 4,50,000 x 1000 = Rs 45,00,00,000 (Rs 45 crore). If it’s true then the producers of Meghalaya had been swindled by the NPP led government,” the former MLA said.
Sangma said that it is yet to be seen “whether Barla had lied about Focus or whether Conrad had really swindled the producers and cheated the people”.
“If the NPP-led government headed by Conrad Sangma has swindled the producers then why is the Centre still not taking any action by initiating an inquiry into the matter or if the Chief Minister is innocent and has done no such thing why they have not rebutted the allegation of the Union Minister and filed a defamation case against Barla as they did against the spokesperson of TMC Saket Gokhale. Only a statement from the Chief Minister or giving the details of the Central fund by Barla can bring out the truth,” Sangma said.
It may be mentioned that Sangma is contesting the upcoming polls from South Tura seat against Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, BJP candidate Bernard N. Marak and Trinamool Congress nominee Richard M. Marak.