Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan finds himself in a bind as he will have to place in the cabinet the controversial file seeking permission for prosecution of Minister for Medical and Higher Education Vijaykumar Gavit in a corruption case. The cabinet meeting is scheduled on Wednesday.
Highly placed sources in the CMO said Chavan was likely to go by consensus in the cabinet. As he cannot press for prosecution against Gavit without the consent of NCP ministers,Chavan may even be asked not to bring the file in the cabinet. However,he will have to adhere to the governors order and cannot keep it in abeyance for ever, said one of the sources.
Gavit has been facing charges of disbursing funds acquired through Centrally-sponsored schemes for tribals and poor to ineligible people in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra between 1998 and 2000. Gavit was the chairman of the scheme for Nandurbar district during that period.
The matter was referred to Governor K Sankaranarayanan by the state government. The government had left it to governors discretion to give permission,without giving its recommendations, said a senior officer in the Raj Bhawan. However,the file has been returned as proper procedure has not been followed by the state government.
The official added: Ideally,any file which is put before the governors signature should be guided by recommendations from the state cabinet. If not from the cabinet,the file should be routed directly by the chief minister. It cannot be left to the Department of General Administration or the states chief secretary.
On both accounts,these rules were not followed. As a result,the governors office has returned Gavits file to the state. It has indicated that the matter should be placed before the cabinet and its approval sought.
In the current situation,where the Congress and the NCP are at loggerheads over almost all critical issues,Chavan is worried he may not get the necessary support from NCP ministers. A couple of NCP ministers spoken to said they would take a final call in their pre-cabinet meeting. One of the ministers said: Let the chief minister first bring the matter on the cabinet agenda. How can we presume hypothetically?
The NCP has,however,decided to oppose the governments decision to allow prosecution against Gavit. A senior NCP office-bearer said,Gavit was the chairman of the Centrally-sponsored scheme for poor and tribals in Nandurbar district. Now,if he has made out-of-turn allocations to some people,it needs to be ascertained what were the parameters. Similar decisions have been taken across 200 constituencies in Maharashtra.
Politically,the NCP believes the state government has the right to regularise the decisions as fund disbursement is the discretion of district tehsildars and not the chairman alone. However,courts have urged the state to take note of the case and necessary action against Gavit.
Vijaykumar Gavit was the chairman of three Centrally-sponsored schemes in Nandurbar district. During 1998-2000,he had allegedly given funds under these schemes to some ineligible people instead of actual beneficiaries. Criminal charges have been brought against Gavit and 22 officials of the public health and revenue departments.