Anti-Corruption Bureau seeks explanation from Pankaja Munde's ministry

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) today sought an explanation from the Women and Child Development department about the alleged awarding of contracts without inviting tenders, a day after claims in this regard emerged against its minister Pankaja Munde.

ACB sent a letter to the department after taking cognisance of a complaint filed by Congress, which has accused Munde of corruption while awarding contracts for supply of a host of items, including books and snacks for anganwadis and other institutions.

"We have received a letter from ACB last evening where they have asked for information on the purchases done by the department. We are in the process of making a report based on the letter, which we will submit to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary," Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary of the WCD department, told PTI.

The report will be submitted to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis by tomorrow and the government will then forward it to ACB, added Kumar. Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant had yesterday registered a complaint with the ACB alleging that the WCD department had awarded contracts worth Rs 206 crore for procuring chikkis (a popular snack), medicines, growth monitoring machines, water filters, carpets and educational material for anganwadis on a single day without inviting tenders for the same.

As per state government norms, all contracts of over Rs 3 lakh have to be electronically tendered.

Munde, daughter of BJP veteran, the late Gopinath Munde, has rejected the allegations and said she is not afraid of any probe.

Currently on a visit abroad, she said in a statement yesterday that she would reply to the charges upon getting back.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister has come out in strong defence of his Cabinet colleague, saying there seems to be no wrongdoing on her part.

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