Maharashtra scam: Fadnavis dares Opposition to come out with proof on Pankaja Munde row

Mumbai, Jun 26: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said he was ready to order a probe into corruption charges against state minister Pankaja Munde in awarding contracts if the opposition furnishes evidence.

"If the Opposition (Congress and NCP) comes out with evidence that norms have been flouted we are ready to conduct an inquiry into the purchases," Fadnavis told PTI.


Pankaja, daughter of BJP veteran late Gopinath Munde, who is in charge of Women and Child Welfare Department, has come under a cloud with the Congress accusing her department of awarding contracts for purchase of a host of items totalling Rs 206 crore for institutions under Integrage Child Development Services (ICDS) without inviting tenders.

The Opposition parties have termed it as the first "major scam" to hit the BJP-led Government after it came to power eight months back and approached the state Anti Corruption Bureau for probe.

Hitting hard at rivals,Fadnavis pointed out when they (Congress and NCP) were in power, purchases were made through similar rate contract system (in which material is purchased after negotiations on its rate) and they should also give an explanation for it.

"If the Opposition is alleging that tenders were not issued and norms were flouted, they should remember that our Government Resolution was issued in April while the purchases were cleared before that. Also, while they were in power, a similar rate contract system was being used by them. They should give an explanation into their purchases. Their double standards will be out then," he said.

The Chief Minister said the government had taken decision to purchase items worth more than Rs one crore by e-tender on April 17, 2015, but the purchases under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was for the year 2014-15.

"The previous government had given purchase order of Rs 164 crore during 2012-13, Rs 127 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 56 crore in June-July 2014 by the same rate contract," he said.

The ICDS had approved purchase orders to registered contractors only, he said.

"If ICDS had not taken the decision, it would not have been possible to use the grants available before March 31, 2015, and it would have got lapsed, thereby adversely affecting the beneficiaries," Fadnavis said.

Meanwhile,Congress leader Sachin Sawant, who has filed a complaint with the ACB, said he had been getting "threatening calls" after he moved the anti-graft body.

But Pankaja received support from RPI(A)leader Ramdas Athawale who alleged she was being targetted as she hailed from backward class background "There is a deliberate attempt being made by the Congress to malign the name of an OBC leader who has massive support of the people. There cannot be any doubts about her integrity," Athawale said.


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