New Delhi: The Congress party has sought a probe into the procurement of 1,000 DTC buses by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, as it joined the clamour over the issue weeks after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started to allege “corruption” in the matter.
On Tuesday, Delhi Congress chief Anil Kumar sought a detailed investigation by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) into the purchase and maintenance of the buses, alleging a “scam of Rs 4288 crore”.
In his letter to CVC Suresh Patel, Kumar requested for a probe in the “maintenance and purchase tenders by fixing criminal liability of the politicians including transport minister, chief minister of AAP government and public officials in the purchase of 1000 buses, involving Rs 4288 crore scam”.
Kumar, along with other members of the Delhi Congress, met the CVC Tuesday and said the Congress will keep pursuing the matter.
The move came days after a panel constituted by the L-G to look into the allegations of corruption filed a report saying the 12-year annual maintenance contract (AMC) of the buses must be scrapped over “procedural lapses” that could lead to “cartelisation”.
However, the panel had absolved the public officials of any “criminal misconduct” over the procurement of the buses. “The committee, prima facie, did not come across any material to impute criminal misconduct attributable to any public official. There were only procedural lapses apparently arising out of a bonafide decision-making process,” it had said.
But the Congress has caught on to the section of the report that raised questions over the maintenance cost, and has asked for a deeper probe.
“The first tender was of Rs 85.5 lakh per bus, and then was restated to Rs 87.5 lakh. That means there will be a loss of Rs 20 crore to the exchequer. Moreover, using the maintenance cost as a garb, they are actually indulging in corruption. They are trying to fool the public,” Delhi Congress member and spokesperson Parvez Alam told ThePrint.
BJP protest against bus procurement by AAP govt
The row first broke out in June, when Delhi BJP MLA and former state unit president Vijender Gupta alleged corruption in the procurement of the buses.
The AAP government had cleared the AMC to purchase 1,000 buses in November 2020. However, Gupta questioned the deal last month, saying “it is beyond doubt that the bus contract was made to benefit private companies and get kickbacks”.
Gupta had approached the L-G’s office and asked for a probe into the matter, in response to which the L-G set up a three-member panel on 16 June. In its 11-page report, the committee found that the AMC tender was “flawed” and encouraged “cartelisation” and “monopoly pricing”.
But the report also said that it “focused its attention only on the procurement process of AMC of the buses” and that “the tendering process of purchase of buses warrants no interference and suffers from no major infirmity”.
After this, the AAP declared that it has been given a “clean chit”, and accused the BJP of trying to defame the party.
“Truth prevails. Conspiracies derail. I had always maintained that let BJP get any of our decision probed from anywhere. Reality is that BJP’s real motive was to defame @ArvindKejriwal ji and derail process of getting buses for Delhiites. I am happy that Delhi will get 1000 Buses,” Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot tweeted last week.
I had always maintained that let BJP get any of our decision probed from anywhere.
Reality is that BJP's real motive was to defame @ArvindKejriwal ji and derail process of getting buses for Delhiites. I am happy that Delhi will get 1000 Buses. pic.twitter.com/J4EoFNI1d9
— Kailash Gahlot (@kgahlot) July 10, 2021
Unnecessary drama, we already have clean chit: AAP
Reacting to the latest Congress attack, the AAP insisted that it has already been given a “clean chit”.
“The L-G-set-up committee has already given us a clean chit. So I don’t understand why after BJP, now Congress is also singing the same tunes,” AAP spokesperson Vikas Yogi told ThePrint.
“There is no issue here. We have done no wrong so this is all an unnecessary drama,” he added.