Guwahati: All India Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale in a letter to the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma said that obfuscation of facts and openly lying to the media as well as the people of Meghalaya has become a hallmark of the MDA government.

In his letter, he also stated that NPP remains committed to misleading the people of Meghalaya.

Gokhale had written a letter to the Chief Minister over some recent events in the state of Meghalaya.

He wrote, “I read your comments in the press today regarding the several allegations that have been raised by the Meghalaya All India Trinamool Congress against the misgovernance and corruption of the MDA government in Meghalaya as well as in the context of our challenge to an open debate in the presence of the media in Shillong.”

He added, “Obfuscation of facts and openly lying to the media as well as the people of Meghalaya has become a hallmark of the MDA government. This has come to an embarrassing point where Ministers in the MDA government don’t think twice before openly lying in front of the media with the hope that the people will not realize and take their word at face value.”

His letter further read, “Unfortunately for the Meghalaya government, as a responsible Opposition party, we are determined to ensure that the people of Meghalaya know the truth and that they’re not cheated by the falsehoods peddled by the state’s ministers.”

He added that in 2020, the MDA government issued a tender for installing smart electricity meters in households across Meghalaya. 

“During the period of issuing the tender as well as when the contracts were awarded, you were holding the portfolio of Power Minister. Of the contracts awarded, the winning bidder was a consortium consisting of the Chinese smart meter company Inhemeter. The Meghalaya TMC had voiced concerns that installing Chinese smart meters to the power grid was a major security risk since these meters can be hacked using a backdoor by Chinese hackers and other anti-India elements”, he added.

“Moreover, on 23rd July 2020, the Govt of India had amended the General Financial Rules 2017 banning, on grounds of national security, bidders for critical infrastructure projects from countries that share a land border with India (which includes China)”, the letter added.

He added that about the above topic, he had also written a letter to Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong on July 29, 2022. 

He further added that in response of the letter, the Deputy Chief Minister told a “hallmark lie”.

Gokhale added that the response by the Deputy CM read, “REC Ltd. under the Govt of India is the technical agency for smart electricity meters. The tendering process, when completed, will not end with MeECL. It will come to the Power Department, which will then send it to Delhi. The REC is the technical agency of the Government of India. It will check whether this material is genuine or not and if in good condition or not. They will certify.” 

As per the AITC leader, these comments were made in the press on 30th July 2022. 

“Looking at the comments, it would seem that smart meters would be installed in Meghalaya by the MDA Govt only after approval is received from REC Ltd. or the Govt of India”, the letter added.

The letter added, “But there’s a catch: On 25th February 2021 (more than a year before the above comments by Mr Tynsong), you as the Power Minister had proudly tweeted a picture of the Chinese Inhemeter smart meter that was installed at your own residence.” 

“Could you please, therefore, explain how there was a Chinese Inhemeter Smart Meter installed at your residence in February 2021 when the Deputy CM claimed in July 2022 that these meters are yet to be approved by REC/Govt of India?”, it adds.

He added, “Your party i.e. the National People’s Party has not filed its mandatory election expenditure reports with the Election Commission of India for the Assembly Elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram for the year 2018, for Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand for the year 2019, for Bihar for the year 2020, for Assam, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal for the year 2021, and for Lok Sabha Elections, 2019.”

“Under orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Common Cause vs Union of India and under subsequent rules framed by the Election Commission, your party was supposed to file these within 75 days of Assembly Elections and 90 days of Lok Sabha Elections”, the letter read.

“The Election Commission of India had issued multiple notices to your party ordering you to submit your election expenditure reports on 15.06.2018, 20.08.2018, and then again, last month, on 14.09.2022 after the Meghalaya TMC raised this issue. In the last notice issued on 14.09.2022, the Election Commission had ordered the NPP to submit these expenditure reports by 20.09.2022. Today is 11.10.2022, and yet, your party NPP has not submitted these reports to the Election Commission”, the two paged letter continues.

He added that the CM’s statement, states about “doing homework”.

“What does it say when a national party like NPP openly hides its election expenditure from the people of Meghalaya as well as the Election Commission of India for over 4.5 years?”, he questioned the CM in the letter.

Gokhale added, “It is beyond hilarious that “homework” is required for this. The truth remains that the NPP remains committed to misleading the people of Meghalaya as well as indulging in shady corrupt practises whether it be in the appointment or awarding of tenders to favourite contractors or with filing its mandatory election expenditure reports.”

“These are just 2 out of MANY issues that we in the Meghalaya TMC can confidently point out where the MDA Govt has not only been mired in irregularities and corruption but has also openly lied to the press and people of Meghalaya to cover things up”, he wrote.

He also said, “This is exactly why we challenged the MDA Govt to have an open debate in front of the press and the people with us. The entire state cabinet has given frivolous excuses to not engage in a debate purely out of the fear that these issues of misgovernance and corruption will get openly exposed.”

Taking a further jive at the CM, Gokhale said that he wished to offer an alternate suggestion. “We are ready to send you point-by-point questions about the issues of misgovernance and corruption in the MDA government”, he wrote.

He added that the Chief Minister at his “leisure” can issue a written response or clarification to the issues raised by the AITC/Meghalaya TMC. 

“Since we’re now making it easy and convenient for you, we hope that your govt will not shy away from this offer especially if it has nothing to hide. Do let us know”, he concluded.

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