Explained: AAP’s new battle with L-G VK Saxena… this time over Delhi buses

The latest tussle between the AAP government and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena is over alleged irregularities in the purchase of 1,000 buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation. The Delhi government dismissed claims of wrongdoing, saying it was an attempt by the L-G to deflect people's attention

FP Explainers September 12, 2022 09:28:06 IST
Explained: AAP’s new battle with L-G VK Saxena… this time over Delhi buses

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). PTI

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

On Sunday, Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (L-G) VK Saxena approved a proposal to forward a complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the alleged corruption in the procurement of the DTC buses.

The matter quickly became a political dogfight with the AAP alleging that the L-G was levelling fake and baseless corruption charges against the Delhi government just to deflect public attention from the corruption charges against him.

Also read: AAP on warpath against VK Saxena: History shows battle between Delhi government and L-G is just beginning

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition, also chimed in saying that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and corruption had become synonymous and demanded his resignation.

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

The DTC bus ‘scam’

The L-G recommendation for a CBI probe into the matter is based off a complaint in June that alleged irregularities in the appointment of the Delhi transport minister as chairman of the committee related to tendering 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 done with the aim of facilitating irregularities in the purchase.

According to news agency PTI, the complaint is pertaining to a July 2019 procurement bid for 1,000 low floor BS-IV and BS-VI buses and another bid made in March 2020 for the purchase and annual maintenance contract for low floor BS-VI buses. It alleged irregularities in both these deals.

From here, the complaint was forwarded to the Chief Secretary on 22 July and was then submitted to the L-G on 19 August, after certain irregularities were found.

As per the Chief Secretary’s report, there were gross violations of the Central Vigilance Commission’s guidelines and general financial rules. It also added that the DIMTS was deliberately made a consultant so that the discrepancies in the tender process could be endorsed.

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

Another irregularity that was found was that M/s TATA Motors Ltd made a bid for 600 buses only. At the same time, JBM made a bid for 1000 buses (400 BS-IV and 600 BS-VI) at a rate higher than Tata Motors. In effect, JBM became the single bidder and therefore, the tender should have been rejected and a fresh tender should have been called by the Tender Committee.

AAP’s response

The AAP government in Delhi has hit back at the L-G, saying the decision to initiate a CBI probe was politically motivated.

AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “In this matter, neither a single bus was purchased nor even a rupee was paid to anybody. Then where did the corruption take place? The Arvind Kejriwal government put the tender process on hold after some inquiry was initiated against it.”

“It was decided not to go ahead with the tender process till the conclusion of the inquiry. It is still on hold for the past two years and we could not purchase even a single bus,” Bharadwaj added.

Also read: AAP model of politics: A case of habitual cribbing and wild allegations

The AAP spokesperson further stated that the L-G’s actions were just a way to deflect public attention from the corruption charges levelled against him.

“L-G Saxena, who wakes up every morning and starts levelling fake and baseless corruption charges against his own Delhi government, has recommended CBI probe into the matter yesterday for the second time in a month just to deflect public attention from the corruption charges levelled against him,” Bharadwaj charged, adding that it was “unfortunate.”

Instead of coming out and saying that he is ready to face a probe, Saxena is staging a new drama every day by levelling baseless allegations against the Kejriwal dispensation, he said.

Later, AAP MP Sanjay Singh hit out at the L-G, alleging that Saxena was levelling baseless allegations against the Kejriwal government as he wants commission from the contractors in award of the government works.

“You deal with the contractors directly for commission in award of work. This business of loot and corruption that you ran at KVIC is not possible in Delhi govt,” he said.

BJP’s hit out at AAP

As the AAP shrugged off allegations of irregularities, the BJP stated that “each department of the AAP government is involved in corrupt activities with contracts and tenders being tailor-made to benefit the friends of Kejriwal”.

BJP’s national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said, “First, it was the excise policy, now there are irregularities in the purchase of buses. Giving tenders in exchange of 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 you are ‘hardcore corrupt’... You have no right to remain in the chair of the chief minister,” Bhatia said.

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

With inputs from agencies

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