The Congress on Wednesday alleged that Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma used his influence to get a Central government subsidy of Rs 10 crore for his wife’s media company.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said that the subsidy was granted under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampad Yojanas agro-processing clusters programme to Pride East Entertainment Private Limited on November 10 for a project valued at Rs 25.88 crore.
According to the details of the project under the scheme, the company is owned by Sarma’s wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma. It owns two news channels, one newspaper, a digital portal, and at least three entertainment channels and has been expanding its operation to silk production and food processing, reported Newslaundry.
The allegations were first raised by Guwahati-based news portal The CrossCurrent that stated that Sarma’s wife became a majority shareholder in the company in 2018. Presently, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, her son Nandil Biswa Sarma, her mother-in-law Mrinalini Devi and Bhaskar Sarma are the directors of the company.
“PM [Narendra] Modi launched the Kisan Sampada scheme to double the income of farmers of India,” Gogoi wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “But in Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma used his influence to help his wife’s firm get Rs 10 crore as part of credit-linked subsidy. Are Central government schemes meant to enrich the BJP?”
The Assam chief minister has denied the allegation.
Sarma said on Wednesday that neither his wife nor her company received any financial subsidies from the Central government.
To this, Gogoi responded that the Ministry of Food Processing website clearly shows the names of Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and her company.
“The Rs 10 crore government grant has also been approved,” he wrote. “Please report to the Union minister if their website has been hacked.”
According to Newslaundry, Pride East Entertainment Private Limited had acquired nearly 50 bighas (7,20,000 square feet) of agricultural land in Dari Goji village in Nagaon’s Kaliabor circle for their proposed food processing plant in February 2022.
Notably, two months later, documents on the Assam revenue records website showed that a majority of the land’s category was changed from agricultural to industry. The change in the land’s definition had also coincided with its identification as the location for the potential food processing plant, according to Newslaundry.