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Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde accused of Rs 206 Crore scam, CM defends her

Mumbai:  Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde was today at the centre of a controversy with the Congress accusing her of involvement in a “scam” by clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day instead
PTI June 24, 2015 23:20 IST

Mumbai:  Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde was today at the centre of a controversy with the Congress accusing her of involvement in a “scam” by clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day instead of inviting tenders in violation of the norms.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a late evening statement, however, defended her.The issue relates to purchases of a host of items including snacks, mats, dishes and books for children under the Integrated Child Development Services by the Women and Child Development Ministry which Munde heads.  

While Munde, who is outside the country, denied any wrongdoing in an emailed statement, Fadnavis said, “Prima facie there appears to be no wrong-doing. If needed, we will probe the issue. Pankaja called me and she said she had not committed any irregularity and is ready to face any inquriy.” But Congress leader and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded an inquiry either by the CBI or the ACB.

Asked if he would demand Munde's resignation, Chavan said “Be it Pankaja Munde or Vinod Tawade (education minister caught in a row over educational qualification), this government would not remove anyone. After all, this the policy of the Modi government to brazen out all allegations.”

Pankaja, daughter of the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, said in her statement, “I feel I should be given a fair chance to present our side... I have very closely observed my decisions and taken best step as much as possible for my department.”

Munde claimed she had not broken any rules and had taken some “dynamic decisions to reduce corruption”.  “I m here to do the best for those kids n women n I will do...I will come bk n all set to answer since I m cofident of my decisions n intentions (sic)..” she said.  An official in her department had said earlier she was expected to return on June 28.

As per government's norms, any purchase above Rs 3 lakh has to be done through e-tendering.

Munde also said in her statement that, “I, as a minister (have) taken some dynamic decision to reduce currption...has also troubled some money-minded bunch of people involved...I have not broken any rules as far I am concerned and also not feared of any allegations”.

Senior BJP minister Eknath Khadse said, “Opposition keeps on levelling charges. We don't take them seriously until they submit proof.”

BJP spokesperson Shaina NC said the opposition had levelled allegations only “to be in news” and should submit evidence.

Accusing BJP and the Centre of double-speak, Congress media department chief Randeep Surjewala said, “We hope that BJP and its government will seriously investigate the way they used to say ‘na khayenge, na khane denge' and will provide a corruption-free government.”

“We hope that they will, before 1.25 crore people of India, prove that they do what they say,” he said, adding “as layers and layers of corruption get unveiled, one leader after another of BJP is getting exposed.

First it was the External Affairs Minister helping a fugitive of law and a black money hoarder, we also saw forged degrees of Irani and now....Pankaja Munde.”

AAP too demanded Munde's resignation over the issue. “24 GRs (government resolutions for purchases) were passed in a single day without following the due procedure. We demand an independent enquiry into this scam and Pankaja Munde must resign immediately,” state AAP convenor Subhash Ware said.  

“Is the Maharashtra CM so incompetent that he did not know the illegality involved or is he so weak that he couldn't act against his cabinet colleague?

“Fadnavis must come clean on this issue, especially as the state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has given clear instructions that any purchases above Rs three lakh have to be done through e-tendering process,” Ware said.