Congress questions Gujarat government’s probe into groundnut scam

Gandhinagar,  Gujarat Leader of the Opposition Paresh Dhanani on Tuesday said the state governments ordering a one-man inquiry committee into the alleged groundnut procurement scam was to cover up its own “wrong-doings”.

“This is the eleventh such commission ordered by state government, which I believe will yield nothing. Instead of our demands of ordering a probe headed by a sitting high court judge, the government has entrusted this to a retired judge H.K. Rathod,” Dhanani told reporters here.

He was referring to the alleged scam where huge groundnut stocks procured by the state government were adulterated with gravel and dust after the good quality grains were removed from it. In at least four such cases where this was detected, the godowns where the groundnut was stocked were set on fire.

After a state-wide hue and cry by the opposition Congress, over 3o persons were arrested and later on Saturday evening the government constituted a one-man committee under a retired high court judge.

However, according to Dhanani who is leading the Congres charge against the scam, this was not enough.

“Why isn’t the government complying with our demands?” he wondered. There are lots of other questions which need answers. Why isn’t the government acting against the members of the (agriculture) cooperative, who are moving about freely, headed by former agriculture minister Chimanbhai Saparia,” he said.

Dhanani said it was clear the government had accepted the scam in groundnut procurement, so “the chief minister should immediately resign on moral grounds”.

Doubting the scope of the judicial probe ordered by the state government, the opposition leader said, “This commission has been constituted just to save the tainted skin of the BJP.”

“There is no clarification by the government on the fire that engulfed the warehouses where the groundnut was stored, the procurement process, who and how the selection of the cooperatives and the agencies (for procurement) was carried out, how was the storage done and the how was the rent decided. All such questions are not addressed in the terms of reference of the commission,” he added.

“So it is clear commission’s probe is just to save the skin of the real culprits behind the scam,” he went on.

Dhanani wondered why was the probe limited to only five warehouses where the fire took place and not to all 279 where the groundnut was stocked, why was it that the fires in five godowns were of similar in nature, why have the FSL reports still not obtained, even after seven months.

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