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Himanta flays Cong over oil royalty issue

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 18 - Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today accused the Congress party of deliberately depriving Assam of its rightful share of crude oil royalty and said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acted against the interest of the State despite being a Rajya Sabha member from Assam.

Addressing a press conference at the Legislative Assembly complex, Sarma said that though the previous UPA Government changed the royalty regime in 2008, the State Government, which was then headed by Tarun Gogoi, did not do anything, even as the Gujarat Government approached the courts against the Centre�s decision to give royalty based on discounted prices.

Sarma said Assam lost around Rs 8,000 crore on account of that. He said that after the Gujarat High Court gave a verdict in favour of the Gujarat Government�s petition, the Centre filed a special petition against it in the Supreme Court.

�The then State Government in Assam did not do anything even after the Supreme Court asked the government to give royalty to Gujarat based on the pre-discounted price from January 2014. But once the NDA Government came to power, Tarun Gogoi started raising the royalty issue and blaming the Centre,� he said.

He accused Gogoi of hiding the facts even from his Cabinet colleagues of that time. �Manmohan Singh indulged in conspiracy to deprive Assam of its rightful share in crude oil royalty. Tarun Gogoi colluded in it. I am accusing that they indulged in conspiracy against Assam for sake of their political battle against Modi,� Sarma said.

Sarma said that he would have moved a censure motion in the Assembly against Singh today and only did not do so because of his personal deep respect for the former Prime Minister.

He said that the Modi government has now released Rs 1,480 crore of oil royalty for the period from January 2014 and this will help the State Government while presenting its budget next week.

With regard to the issue of royalty between 2008 and 2014 period, Sarma said the Assam and Gujarat governments will jointly formulate their legal options in this regard.

Sarma also accused the Congress and Tarun Gogoi of indulging in politics over the AIIMS issue and displayed official documents in the press conference which show that Gogoi had signed a letter asking the Revenue Department to look for land at Changsari for the AIIMS after the Centre decided to set up the institute at that place.

�It is correct that the Centre has selected Changsari, but it also a fact that Gogoi has approved the selection. Now, he has no moral right to demand AIIMS at Raha. Raha was never proposed by anybody as the site for the AIIMS. It was I who suggested that a site should also be explored in Nagaon district,� he said.

He added, �If Gogoi wanted the AIIMS at Raha, why did not he give a dissenting note to the Centre when Changsari was selected.�

He said that Congress MLAs indulged in unruly scenes inside the House today and walked out from the Assembly as part of a deliberate policy as the party was not in a position to �face us with facts.�

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