Congress' claim that Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde held a director's post in a private media company and the subsequent demand for his sacking over 'conflict of interest' were a ploy to divert attention from the National Herald issue, BJP said on Friday.
"Allegations against Tawde made by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan are an attempt to distract attention of people from the National Herald case," BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar said.
"We can also demand that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should resign as Congress President and Vice President respectively for alleged misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of the now-defunct daily National Herald," he told PTI.
"In that case, party funds were used and the (Gandhi) family benefited.
"However, in (Tawde's) case, the party gave the money as trade advance and there was no financial gain for the BJP or any leader," Shelar said.
Chavan had on Thursday alleged that BJP had given party funds to a 'for profit' company to launch a newspaper 'Tarun Bharat', whose editor was later appointed to the state education body by the BJP-Shiv Sena government. "Tawde is director of a 'for profit' company and then he appoints a co-director in the company as the head of the Maharashtra State Marathi Encyclopedia Production Board (MSMEPB).
This is a clear case of conflict of interest. Its not just immoral but also illegal and against the code of conduct prescribed for a minister," Chavan said. He said that it was a serious matter as the person in question was "business partner of a minister".
"When you should be working for the government, he (Tawde) is actually working for a private company," the Congress leader had alleged. Tawde, however, denied the allegations.
"First of all, I am just an honorary director and according to company law, honorary director is different from a director who gets financial benefits from the company while a honorary director doesn't.
"I am surprised that a person like Chavan is making such statements. Whatever is being spoken about is fiction and the allegations are made through ignorance," he said. There was nothing wrong in appointing Karambelkar as the head of the MSMEPB, Tawde said.
"I know him since 1980, he is a well-known writer. His appointment has been done on the basis of that alone," he said.
Tawde also maintained that Rs 25 lakh given by BJP to Shree Ram Multimedia Vision Ltd to start Tarun Bharat was a trade advance.
"We did it because as a party we incur expenditure for printing and advertisements in newspapers," the minister said responding to Chavan's allegations.