AMID A controversy over members of the Maharashtra Cabinet continuing as directors with private companies in violation of the model code of conduct, BJP Minister Chandrakant Patil resigned as director in a Kolhapur-based firm following questions raised over a possible conflict of interest.
“I thought about it. How many times will we keep debating on whether the code of conduct for ministers is mandatory or not? So, I decided to resign from my post of a director of my company,” said PWD Minister Patil.
The Indian Express had on Tuesday reported that the BJP-led Maharashtra government has at least three Cabinet ministers and three ministers of state on boards of private companies, according to records of the Registrar of Companies (RoC). Of these, a Cabinet minister and a minister of state, both from Shiv Sena, are directors with companies which operate in the same sectors that fall within their portfolio.
Patil was director with Kolhapur-based Telematic Interactive Pvt Ltd, which supplies equipment such as biometric readers, fax machines, and surveillance cameras, since the firm’s incorporation in September 2012. Telematic Interactive filed the intimation of Patil’s resignation with the RoC on March 22.
“My staff in the company is senior enough, so they can manage things from now on. I am 57 years old, so by the time my political career ends, I would have reached retirement age, so there is no question of me being associated with the company again,” said Patil.
The Minister had earlier said that every politician should ideally have a profession or business, and if a minister is expected to leave all business interests his salary should be increased to a level that can take care of his household. Patil was a 50 per cent shareholder of Telematic Interactive, whose turnover as per RoC records was Rs 98.79 lakh for 2014-15.
The model code of conduct for ministers, framed by the Union government, says that a minister within two months of assuming office should sever all connection, short of divesting himself of ownership, with the conduct and management of any business that he was interested in before being appointed as minister.
It adds that the minister may transfer his interest, and even ownership and management to any adult relative associated with the conduct or management of the business, except the spouse. Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, however, had last week defended Education Minister, Vinod Tawde, who the opposition had initially targeted for being director with private companies, saying the code of conduct was not constitutionally enforceable.
Besides Patil, ministers Deepak Sawant from Shiv Sena and Pankaja Munde from BJP, and ministers of state Ravindra Waikar and Deepak Kesarkar from Shiv Sena and Pravin Pote Patil from BJP were also directors with private companies despite being ministers.
Of these, Kesarkar, shown to be on the board of Sindhudurg-based Innovators Resorts Pvt Ltd, and Pote Patil, on the board of Amravati-based Pravin Builders and Developers (India) Pvt Ltd, said they had resigned from their position as directors a long time ago, but their companies were yet to update RoC records.
Sawant, health minister in the government, is the chairman of Anideep Eye Hospital and Institute Pvt Ltd, while Waikar, minister of state for housing, is on the board of a construction firm, Ichchhapurti Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, according to RoC records — both companies being in the same sectors as their respective portfolios.
Munde, who holds the portfolios of women and child development, rural development, water conservation and employment guarantee scheme, is on the boards of at least five companies under her post-marriage name, Pankaja Palwe.