Mumbai, Jul 1: Terming as a "scam of words" the charges against her, Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde, under fire for awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore for purchasing items like chikki, mats and books for children, today said that similar items were procured at a higher price during the previous Congress-NCP rule.
"The earlier Congress-led regime purchased such items at a cost of Rs 408 crore during its tenure. You call that a purchase and term the procurement made by us a scam," Munde told reporters here.
"It is a scam of words," Munde, a BJP member in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet, said, adding that "the allegations against me are politically motivated".
The previous regime had in 2013-14 alone made purchases worth Rs 114 crore, the minister claimed.
"I want every child to fight malnourishment with the support of government and I will ensure that despite of what happens," she said. "These are politically motivated charges. I deny all charges against me. There is an intention (on the part of the Opposition) that some scam should be attached to a BJP minister," she said.
Holding that there was nothing wrong in ordering purchasing these items through rate contract system, she said, "There is no irregularity of a single rupee".
"I and my department are ready to face any probe. We will also reply to queries by ACB," she said.
To a query on why top BJP ministers were not present at her media briefing, as was the case with Education Minister Vinod Tawde's briefing yesterday, Munde said the two ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil had prior engagements and she had spoken to them.
"The CM and my party ministers are behind me and I have support of lakhs and crores of people," she said.
Twade, who is facing allegation of clearing a Rs 191 crore contract for supply of fire extinguishers for schools without tendering, was flanked by two senior ministers at a press meet he held yesterday to refute the allegation.
Housing Minister Prakash Mehta joined Munde's briefing almost an hour after it started.
Rashtriya Samaj Paksh leader Mahadev Jankar, and Pankaja's sister and BJP MP Preetam Munde were also present.
Pankaja, daughter of late BJP stalwart Gopinath Munde, was away in London last week when the allegation surfaced with the Congress dubbing it as a "major scam" and approaching the ACB for a probe.