Enjoy our faster App experience

BJP ministers in Maharashtra caught in unsavoury controversies

Raj Purohit, a veteran leader from Mumbai, caught on camera blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not being business-friendly and cracking down on black money. He was also critical of Fadnavis for not having made him a minister.



by

Nithin Belle

Published: Sun 28 Jun 2015, 10:35 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:59 PM

Mumbai: After sailing relatively smoothly over the past eight months, the BJP-led government in Maharashtra is suddenly snared in choppy waters, with many of its ministers being caught in unsavoury controversies.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis — who is heading to the US on Monday to attract investments to the state — has been embarrassed by many of his ministers, who are caught up in controversies and have had to be defended by their boss.

While nearly half a dozen ministers — including some of the chief minister’s key rivals within the party — are being attacked daily by the Congress and other opposition parties for their alleged misdemeanours, a BJP legislator has now added to the discomfort of the party with his blunt remarks against senior leaders both at the centre and in Maharashtra in a sting operation conducted by a television channel.

Raj Purohit, a veteran leader from Mumbai, caught on camera blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not being business-friendly and cracking down on black money. He was also critical of Fadnavis for not having made him a minister.

While Purohit, who was a controversial minister in the previous Shiv Sena-BJP government (between 1995 and 1999), claims the video telecast by a channel is fabricated, the party has said a disciplinary panel will look into the matter and if he is found guilty, he would be sacked.

In the video, Purohit attacks powerful city BJP leader and one of India’s top developers, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, of amassing wealth and bribing top party leaders in a bid to become a minister. Claiming that though he is one of the senior-most BJP leaders in Maharashtra, he said he was not made a minister, “because money speaks”.

Several BJP ministers are also facing the heat with new revelations emerging regularly on their alleged misdemeanours. Pankaja Munde, an ambitious leader from Marathawada — whose supporters have been projecting her as a potential chief minister — has been caught in a Rs2 billion scam.

She is accused of having favoured a few contractors while handing over deals relating to the purchase of snack items, dishes, mats and books meant for poor and tribal children, without opting for transparent and mandatory procedures such as e-tendering. The women and child welfare minister is the daughter of the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde.

Another powerful minister — and potential rival to Fadnavis — Vinod Tawde, the education minister, is battling charges of having procured a ‘bogus’ engineering degree from a non-recognised institution.

Another minister facing the music for faking his educational credentials is Babanrao Lonikar, the water sanitation minister, who had claimed in his 2004 and 2009 election affidavits that had an arts degree. But last year, he said he had only studied till the fifth standard.

Two other ministers, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, the power minister, and Ranjit Patil, the junior minister, are accused of having links with the sand mafia.

The state Congress unit, demoralised after last year’s humiliating defeats in both the general and state elections in Maharashtra, is suddenly energised with the allegations against the ministers.

While its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party is lying low — with three of its own leaders and former ministers, Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal and Sunil Tatkare being probed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau — the Congress hopes to capitalise on the miseries of the BJP-led government.

nithin@khaleejtimes.com


More news from WORLD