Maharashtra Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde, who has courted several controversies over the past 18 months, said on Wednesday that she and her family were being “systematically targeted”. The minister even publicly questioned the “source” behind the “campaign” against her, hinting at the possible role of her party colleagues in the BJP. Munde’s emotional outburst came a day after a report in The Hindu newspaper linked the minister and her husband Charudatta to a tainted construction firm, RPS Infraprojects, whose directors and employees are facing accusations in a multi-crore road scam in Mumbai.
“I am being consistently targeted over the past 1.5-2 years. While I was the subject of the target previously, now my family is also being dragged into this,” Munde told mediapersons at the Vidhan Bhavan. The report had raised questions regarding a possible conflict of interest against Munde, claiming that she and her husband had a “close partnership” with the construction firm.
The main contention was that a director in the RPS Infraprojects, Ketan Shah, had also been a designated partner in Supra Media Services LLP and SOS Supra Publicity LLP since 2012. Charudatta had founded these media and advertising firms, both of which operate from the same office in Pune. Both Charudatta and Munde were designated partners in these firms until recently.
It was alleged that the extent of road contracts offered to RPS in Mumbai rose manifold following this association. Munde, however, said she was being “unfairly targeted”. She said, “We have no transaction with the construction firm. I’ve never met or corresponded with the Mumbai mayor, Shiv Sena leaders, or any civic official for their work. Even the chief minister has full idea about it.” Munde said their association with the RPS was limited to a work order for advertising that the BMC had issued to the latter in 2011.
“My husband has been in the advertising business for over 14 years. They (RPS) had approached the LLP to grant advertising rights. But due to some reason, no work was ever carried out. The LLP is defunct. In view of the non-performance, we have resigned from the LLP. Neither I nor my husband are even remotely connected to the road construction firm,” Munde said.
Venting her ire, Munde added that she was planning to take legal action in the matter. “I have also decided to seek information regarding the source who is targeting me,” she said. Munde, who was a chief ministerial aspirant, has been dogged by various controversies ever since she became a state minister.