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Pankaja accused of awarding contracts to her favourites

Pankaja accused of awarding contracts to her favourites

The Congress has lodged a complaint with the ACB against the minister, who is the daughter of the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde.


Nithin Belle

Published: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 11:35 PM

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

Mumbai — The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Maharashtra has sought details from the government relating to allegations of irregularities by Pankaja Munde, the women and children’s development minister in a Rs2 billion scam.

The Congress has lodged a complaint with the ACB against the minister, who is the daughter of the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, accusing her of favouring select contractors while awarding deals worth more than Rs2 billion.

Munde, who is currently travelling abroad, has denied the charges. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Thursday, reportedly to discuss the charges against Munde.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which completed a year in office last month, is suddenly facing a series of charges against its top leaders. While external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundara Raje are feeling the heat of the Lalit Modi scam, Smriti Irani, the human resources development minister is finding it increasingly difficult to defend herself in the fake degree case.

Even in Maharashtra, Vinod Tawde, the education minister, is facing charges of having a fake engineering degree, from an institution that is not recognised by any regulator.

And now the Munde scam has hit the BJP-led government, which is finding it embarrassing to defend her actions.

According to the allegations, Munde hurriedly issued orders for the purchase of ‘chikkis’ (a snack item), mats, books and dishes — worth more than Rs2 billion — for poor children under the Integrated Child Development Services, without going through the tendering process. The norms specify that it is compulsory to go for e-tendering for any purchase above Rs300,000.

Fadnavis says Munde called her up and told him she was ready to undergo any inquiry into the charges. She also denied any wrong-doing and said the decisions were taken quickly to reduce corruption.

However, her problems have got compounded as some local bodies have started complaining that the ‘chikkis’ being distributed to tribal students were found to be contaminated with clay. Similarly, irregularities have been detected in all the other contracts and purchases made hurriedly by Munde.

The minister also pushed through her proposals despite objections from some officials, allege Congress leaders. Some of the suppliers did not even have facilities to produce the stuff that they were contracted to deliver and allegedly had ties to the minister.

Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded an explanation from Fadnavis into the charges and described Munde’s decision as ‘a complete fraud.’


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