Explained: AAP’s new battle with LG VK Saxena…this time over buses in Delhi

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The latest spat between the AAP government and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena revolves around alleged irregularities in the Delhi Transport Corporation’s purchase of 1,000 buses. Delhi government rejected claims of wrongdoing, saying it was an attempt by the LG to divert people’s attention

Delhi LG VK Saxena has approved the proposal to forward a complaint to the CBI about the alleged irregularities in the procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). PTIA

The Arvind Kejriwal-led government of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi is in trouble again, this time over the purchase of 1,000 low-floor buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

On Sunday, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi (LG) VK Saxena approved a proposal to forward a complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the alleged corruption in the procurement of the DTC buses.

The case quickly turned into a political dogfight with the AAP, which claimed the LG was leveling false and unfounded allegations of corruption against the Delhi government in order to divert public attention from the corruption allegations against him.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition, also said Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal and corruption had become synonymous and demanded his resignation.

Let’s take a closer look at the alleged bus scam that was committed and how the parties reacted to the situation.

The DTC bus ‘scam’

The LG recommendation for a CBI investigation into the matter is based on a complaint in June that alleged irregularities in the appointment of the Delhi Transport Minister as chairman of the committee related to the tender and purchase of DTC buses.

It also said the appointment of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) as the management consultant for the tender was made with the aim of facilitating irregularities in the procurement.

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According to news agency PTIA, the complaint relates to a July 2019 tender offer for 1,000 BS-IV and BS-VI low-floor buses and another bid made in March 2020 for the purchase and annual maintenance contract for BS-VI buses with a low floor. It alleged irregularities in both deals.

From here, the complaint was forwarded to the Chief Secretary on 22 July and then lodged with the LG on 19 August, after certain irregularities had been identified.

According to the Chief Secretary’s report, there were gross violations of the Central Vigilance Commission’s guidelines and general financial rules. It added that the DIMTS was deliberately made an advisor so that the discrepancies in the tender process could be underwritten.

The discrepancy in the document read: “The DTC had issued the tender with RFP No. CGM/SBU/924/2019/AC for the procurement of 1000 buses and it was a single tender for the supply of 1000 BS-IV or the latest buses. In the pre-bid, the number of 1000 buses was split into 400 BS-IV buses and 600 BS-VI buses, but the tender remained only one and the bidders could have bid on the full number of these buses of both types” .

Another irregularity found was that M/s TATA Motors Ltd was bidding for only 600 buses. At the same time, JBM made an offer for 1000 buses (400 BS-IV and 600 BS-VI) at a higher rate than Tata Motors. In fact, JBM became the sole bidder and therefore the tender should have been rejected and the tender committee should have launched a new tender.

Response from AAP

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The AAP government in Delhi has hit back at the LG, saying the decision to launch a CBI investigation was politically motivated.

AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said: “In this case, not a single bus has been bought, nor even a rupee has been paid to anyone. Where did the corruption take place? The government of Arvind Kejriwal has halted the tender process after an investigation was launched against it.”

“It has been decided not to proceed with the tender until after the investigation has been completed. It’s still on hold for the past two years and we couldn’t even buy a single bus,” Bharadwaj added.

Also Read: AAP Model of Politics: A Case of Customary Criticism and Wild Accusations

The AAP spokesperson further stated that the LG’s actions were merely a way to divert public attention from the corruption allegations leveled against him.

“LG Saxena, who wakes up every morning and begins to level false and unfounded corruption charges against his own government in Delhi, yesterday recommended the CBI for the second time in a month to investigate the matter in order to divert public attention from the corruption charges against him. ‘ said Bharadwaj, adding that it was ‘unfortunate’.

Rather than come out and say he is ready to face an investigation, Saxena is stepping up a new drama every day by leveling baseless accusations against the Kejriwal dispensation, he said.

Later, AAP MP Sanjay Singh attacked the LG, claiming that Saxena made baseless allegations against Kejriwal’s government for wanting commission from the contractors for the award of the government works.

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“When awarding work, you deal directly with the contractors for the assignment. This case of booty and corruption that you led at KVIC is not possible in the Delhi government,” he said.

BJP’s hit on AAP

While the AAP shrugged off allegations of irregularities, the BJP stated that “every department of the AAP government is involved in corrupt activities where contracts and tenders are tailor-made to benefit Kejriwal’s friends”.

BJP’s national spokesman Gaurav Bhatia said: “First it was the excise policy, now there are irregularities in the purchase of buses. Giving offers in exchange for money has become an important part of Kejriwal’s politics. Kejriwal and corruption have become synonymous.

“How can you claim to be ‘hardcore honest’? People have understood that you are ‘hardcore corrupt’… You have no right to remain in the prime minister’s chair,” Bhatia said.

He said Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot was appointed by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) as chairman of the bus procurement and procurement committee “with the intention of giving benefits to friends”.

With input from agencies

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