Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Sharma Menon on Tuesday levelled corruption allegations against Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party minister Pankaja Munde and party leader Raosaheb Danve. Menon, who demanded the minister’s resignation, said Munde had awarded multi-crore contracts to dubious self-help groups and mahila mandals under the Take Home Ration scheme, reported Hindustan Times.
Menon claimed that the Supreme Court in 2009 had declared three mahila mandals – Mahalakshmi, Maharashtra and Venkateshwara – fake. However, when Munde took over as the women and child development minister, she gave contracts to all three groups, Menon said according to NDTV. She alleged close associates of BJP state president Raosaheb Danve and his son were also involved in the scam.
The contracts are meant to supply provisions under the Take Home Ration scheme to children and pregnant women in the anganwadis. The contractors bagged tenders worth Rs 4,805 crore, which is approximately 88% of the total scam amount, the Hindustan Times report added. “These women self-help groups are merely fronts for private parties and are run by men,” Menon said.
However, Munde denied this. “I don’t think any force in this country can override what the Supreme Court says,” she said. “We have worked according to the Supreme Court guidelines.”
The BJP said AAP should first look at the allegations made against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “AAP has a habit of making allegations without providing any proof,” BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari told Hindustan Times. “We have ensured transparency in the tendering process by introducing e-tenders where no one can be favoured.”
This is not the first time corruption allegations have been mounted against Munde. In 2015, she was accused of violating rules for a transparent online bidding process and sanctioning inflated deals for the supply of items for government-run schools. The scam, worth Rs 206 crore, was known as the chikki scam. However, in December 2016, she was cleared of the allegations by the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau.