The relationship of the BJP with the NPP and UDP in Meghalaya sours over corruption charges and misutilization central funds in crores given to the two the autonomous district councils – JHADC and GHADC.
The Meghalaya BJP unit while requesting the Centre to initiate a CBI probe into the misutilization of central funds in the two councils – Jaiñtia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) and Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC).
The state BJP said it would not hesitate to withdraw its support to the MDA government led by NPP-UDP if corruption is not stopped by the National People’s Party (NPP) and United Democratic Party (UDP) in the two councils.
BJP Meghalaya president Ernest Mawrie while highlighting the alleged corrupt activities in the two district councils said he has written to the Union ministry of finance about the misappropriation of funds in the two councils, and requested for a CBI probe.
According to Mawrie, the present Executive Committee in JHADC led by the NPP and UDP has diverted Rs 20 crore for payment of salaries to council members and staff, though the central fund was meant for developmental projects that should be implemented by the council.
The BJP president said the fund released by the central government under the Special Assistance Grant (SAG) for district councils in the Northeast including the three councils in Meghalaya should be utilised as per the guidelines of the ministry of finance, but the funds have been misused not for development.
In GHADC, Mawrie alleged that an Executive Committee led by the NPP has misused an amount of more than Rs 5 crore for making documentary films and radio jingles quoting exorbitant prices and tenders were allotted without following procedures.
The Executive Committee in GHADC is led by the chief executive member, Dipul Marak.
BJP member in JHADC, Lakhon Biam alleged that the present EC led by the Chief Executive Member, Thombor Shiwat has violated the guidelines for utilizing the Central fund by diverting Rs 20 crore for payment of salary instead of using the fund for developmental activities.
“We do not know if the contractors who executed the developmental schemes have been paid or not because the money has been utilized for payment of salary for the staff and members of the JHADC,” Biam said.
Biam also said while the central fund has been used for payment of salary, the present EC has also misused the Council fund in the name of giving financial assistance to some people who are the supporters of the MDCs in the ruling side.
“From the council fund, the financial assistance for each beneficiary was between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh. Surprisingly, the amount was not deposited directly into the bank account of each beneficiary, but the amount was deposited into the respective bank accounts of the MDCs. They claimed that the beneficiaries did not have their bank accounts,” Biam revealed.
Stating the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi since 2015-16 has implemented a scheme for opening of bank account for all citizens of the country and the poor, Biam said the present EC has done this only to find the way to misuse the council fund.
He said the utilization of the central funds in JHADC was in clear violation of the guidelines laid down by the Centre and the estimates and projects were not approved by the competent technical experts as well as approval of the State Level Committee.
“When we pointed out these irregularities, the EC stated that such procedures are not required, and this has clearly shown that large-scale corruption has taken place. We want proper implementation of projects and proper utilization of the funds under the SAG given by the Centre. We do not want funds under SAG to be misused as it was in the case of the fund meant for construction of Ïawmusiang at Jowai by the JHADC in the past,” Biam said.
The BJP president also said although the BJP is part and parcel of the MDA government in the state, but BJP MDCs in JHADC were made to sit in the opposition by the NPP and UDP.
When asked if the priority of BJP is to be part of the NPP-UDP Executive Committee in JHADC, or to demand for a CBI probe into the alleged misappropriation of funds in the two district councils, Mawrie said the priority is to have an inquiry into the alleged corruption.
“The party’s stand is against corruption. Though we are allies now, the BJP had fought the election on its own ideologies without allies,” Mawrie said.
To a question, if the BJP would pull out support from the NPP-UDP-led MDA government in the state, Mawrie said the party would try to speak to the state government to put a stop to such corrupt activities in the two district councils.
The BJP has two MLAs and one of them, AL Hek is the health minister .
“If that fails, the party is ready to withdraw support,” the BJP president warned.
To another query, why the BJP has chosen not to touch alleged corrupt activities in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), which had also received huge amount of central funds, Mawrie defended saying, the party would seek information under the RTI Act related to utilisation of central fund which was given by the central government to the KHADC.
Among the three district councils in Meghalaya, the KHADC received the highest fund from the Centre close to Rs 190 crore between 2015 and 2019.
Mawrie said out of Rs 1000 crore allocated by the Centre for autonomous district councils in the Northeast on September 29, 2016, the KHADC was given Rs 133.12 crore, JHADC Rs 33.67 crore and GHADC got Rs 100.71 crore.
Mawrie informed that on March 7, 2019, the central government had again released funds for the district councils in Meghalaya where the KHADC received over Rs 34.87 crore, GHADC Rs 31.40 crore and JHADC received Rs 11,62,65,000.
Again on March 30, 2019, Mawrie said that the KHADC received another Rs 15.30 crore, GHADC got Rs 13.60 crore and JHADC Rs 5.10 crore.