While the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has closed the alleged ‘chikki scam’ case, the complainant in the case and Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant on Wednesday accused the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government of misusing the ACB for “political purposes”. The ACB submitted a report to the Home department stating there was nothing to substantiate the allegations made against Woman and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde.
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Munde said the ACB report and the clean chit have proven that all allegations against her and her department were totally baseless. “The earlier Congress-NCP government had purchased similar items at a cost of Rs 408 crore, nobody questioned that, while our procurement was termed as ‘scam’. Purchase of chikki and other material was done as per norms and there was nothing wrong in making the purchase as per the rate contract system. Following the report of ACB, it is now proven that all the allegations by opposition were false and baseless,” she said.
The complaint had accused the minister of awarding contracts for various items including the “chikki” (sweetmeat made with nuts and jaggery), mats, notebooks, water filters, etc, for schoolchildren for tribal area schools without her department calling for e-tenders.
The matter came to light when Sawant in June last year lodged a complaint with the ACB, demanding an inquiry into the allegations against Munde.
Disappointed with the ACB’s probe, Sawant has now demanded that all the documents pertaining the investigation in the case be made public. “I had lodged a complaint on June 24, 2015 and submitted documents supporting the chikki scam on June 30, 2015. However, it was only in July this year that I received a letter from ACB informing me about action taken by them. The BJP government is weakening the ACB and using it for political purpose,” Sawant said on Wednesday.
Sawant said that it took a year for ACB officials to ask for an opinion from Munde’s department about the case. “I had lodged a complaint against Munde and her department and they asked for their opinion on it. Its like asking thieves of what they think about the theft they committed. After July 2016, this is a second letter to me from ACB where they informed me that the nothing was found against her in the case.”
Criticising the opposition, Munde said she was prepared for any kind of inquiry as it was never a scam and she was confident of coming out clean. “The allegations against me were politically motivated in order to malign my image. This led to unnecessary chaos. ACB has dismissed all the allegations and the truth has prevailed,” Munde added.