Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, the wife of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, has filed a Rs 10 crore defamation suit against Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi for “false” allegations of irregularities in a food processing project.
Senior advocate Devajit Saikia, her counsel, told PTI that the case has been filed at the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) of Kamrup Metropolitan on Friday and it will be moved on September 26.
“My client has claimed a defamation of Rs 10 crore against Gaurav Gogoi for various tweets on X. We have made it very clear that we never made any application to receive subsidy,” he added.
Saikia further claimed that the process to seek subsidy has not been initiated at all and for which, a show cause notice was slapped on his client’s firm on May 26 this year, followed by an email from the Ministry of Food Processing.
“The approval for the project was given on November 22, 2022. In the last email, we were told that our claim would lapse if we didn’t submit our proposal. We are not responding to anything to seek subsidy,” he added.
Whatever Gogoi stated on social media about Sarma and her entity ‘Pride East Entertainments’, that information was not based on facts, claimed the senior advocate.
“He (Gogoi) did not do his homework. Getting approval for a project does not mean that a subsidy has been received. We will fight the case tooth and nail,” he asserted.
A huge controversy erupted after Guwahati-based digital media ‘The Crosscurrent’ published a report alleging that over 50 bigha (nearly 17 acres) of agricultural land at Darigaji village in Kaliabor in Nagaon district was reclassified as industrial land within a month after it was bought by Pride East Entertainments, in which the chief minister’s wife is the chairman and managing director.
Following this, Gogoi, in a series of tweets for several days, brought allegations of corruption against Sarma and his wife in getting central government subsidy for the project.
The Deputy Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha sought the intervention of Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in bringing facts out in the open regarding subsidy for the project under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) and Scheme for Creation of Infrastructure for Agro Clusters.
The Assam MP also pointed out that on March 22, 2023, Goyal in a reply to questions in Lok Sabha on the government’s initiative to invest in Assam in order to support the promotion of industries, provided a list of food processing projects supported under the component of PMKSY as on January 31, 2022.
“At Serial No 7 of the list, the name of M/S Pride East Entertainment Pvt Ltd has been mentioned. Pertinently, the amount of approved Grant-in-Aid is mentioned as Rs 10 crore. The list of beneficiaries can also be found on the website of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries,” he added.
The PM Kisan Sampada Yojana is a comprehensive package which aims to create modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
Gogoi’s claims were vehemently challenged by the chief minister, who was engaged in a prolonged duel with the Congress leader on X. His wife had threatened to sue the MP alleging defamation.