The alleged corruption in two district councils in the State appeared to have caused more bad blood between the NPP and BJP which are allies in the MDA government in the State.
The State BJP has recently approached the Meghalaya Lokayukta seeking probe into alleged misappropriation of central government funds under the special assistance grant in the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) and Jaiñtia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC).
In GHADC, the NPP is leading the Executive Committee with the support of the BJP. In JHADC, the Executive Committee is led by the NPP and UDP, whereas BJP members sit in the opposition. The BJP has three members in JHADC and seven in GHADC.
The BJP has alleged that in JHADC, the fund around Rs 20 crore was misused for payment of salaries to the staff and members of the Council, while in GHADC, Rs 5 crore was misused for making documentary films and radio jingles by quoting exorbitant prices and tenders were allotted without following due procedures.
Irked by the move by the State BJP for Lokayukta inquiry into the alleged corruption, the NPP today said that such steps taken by the BJP has further complicated a procedure to reach a meaningful solution.
“Despite assurances from their own ministers, who are more than willing to cooperate with the MDA government by taking part in discussions, the State BJP’s reactionary response is not in tandem with the government’s approach towards solving this issue,” NPP spokesman and legislator Marcuise N. Marak said in a statement.
According to the NPP spokesman, for the benefit of the state and its people, the only path that exists is cooperation of all parties and their elected representatives.
“Last month, BJP MLA Sanbor Shullai had asked its party leaders to stop making allegations against the MDA government and cooperate by discussing issues at relevant forums. We respect the participative and healthy stance of Shullai and hope the State BJP functions in tandem with such leaders,” Marak said.
On the move by the State government for calling BJP for talks on all its grievances and allegations, Marak said that the State BJP should sort out its own “confused stance” first as a discussion cannot be held if all their leaders are on different pages regarding the issue.
It may be noted that NPP leaders – Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma and Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong – had confirmed that the MDA government will convene a coordination committee meeting where a collective deliberation will be held and a constructive solution will be sought. In addition to this, the State government had also ordered an audit of the GHADC starting from 2015 onwards, which is already underway.
“Given the fact that the state government is taking proactive steps, with MLAs such as Shullai showing leadership maturity by being constructive in assisting the government, it is unfortunate that such steps are being taken by the state’s BJP, further complicating a procedure to reach a meaningful solution,” Marak said.
It may be mentioned that BJP with two MLAs is part of the MDA government led by the NPP. Party legislator A L Hek is the Health Minister in the government.
Recently, State BJP chief Ernest Mawrie had alleged that over Rs 20 crore of special assistance grant given to GHADC has been diverted for payment of salaries of employees in JHADC violating the guidelines. Mawrie had also said that 50 per cent of all projects undertaken by the GHADC are only on papers.
He had also alleged that in GHADC a documentary project costing Rs 5.82 crore was allotted without any tender or bidding for supplying information, education and communication (IEC) materials to the Council.
Mawrie had also alleged that the work for the IEC project was handed over to a relative of the wife of Power Minister James Sangma and is being carried out by an officer attached to the chief minister’s office.
According to the State BJP president, of the Rs 1,000 crore sanctioned by the Centre during 2015-16, the KHADC has received Rs 133.12 crore while GHADC and JHADC received Rs 100.71 crore and Rs 33.57 crore respectively.
He had also said that the Centre had released special assistance grant funds of Rs 34.87 crore to KHADC, Rs 31.40 crore to GHADC and Rs 11.62 crore to JHADC in March last year. According to him, the funds had been openly misused in GHADC and JHADC.