Prithviraj Chavan demands CBI inquiry against Munde, Tawde

Mumbai: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today demanded a CBI inquiry into allegations of corruption against the BJP ministers Pankaja Munde and Vinod Tawde.

Chavan also said that Congress was planning to take recourse to legal remedy regarding the row over educational qualifications of Tawde and water supply minister Babanrao Lonikar.

Coming down heavily on the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra at a press conference here, the senior Congress leader said, "A CBI probe should be conducted in the corruption cases, as BJP had promised a clean and transparent government. But e-tendering procedure was set aside in procurements."

He was referring to procurement of chikki (a snack) and other things, worth Rs 206 crore, by the women and child welfare department which is under Munde, and that of fire extinguishers by the education department, which is under Tawde, without e-tendering.

"Earlier, the e-tendering was mandatory for procurement of Rs 50 lakh and above. I brought it down to Rs 10 lakh. The new government brought it down further to Rs 3 lakh. I want to ask the Chief Minister what he has to say on the rules being flouted?" Chavan asked. Asked about BJP's contention that government was only following the process adopted by the previous Congress-NCP regime, Chavan said he was not averse to any inquiry into the purchases made by the previous government, but the present government must admit to its own lapses.

About the fake degree row, Chavan said the ministers have insulted the students who slog for four years to get a degree.

"We are thinking of taking recourse to legal remedy. Tawde has said he is (engineering) graduate when his university is not recognised. The same is the case with Lonikar," he added.

The former Chief Minister also alleged that BJP was trying to destroy the cooperative movement in the state which is the backbone of rural economy. "The government is trying to wind up the cooperative movement. One has to remove lapses in the system. It is a fact that sugarcane growers, factories pay crores of rupees in tax to the government," he said.

The state government has asked the sugar factories to pay the farmers Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP), to which the factories do not agree as the sugar prices have fallen. "The sugarcane growers are yet to get over Rs 21,000 crore. Not a single factory has paid as per the FRP," he said. Chavan also demanded a complete loan waiver for farmers, as given by the UPA government in 2008.

He apparently also took potshots at Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti, a BJP ally, without naming him. "The farmer leaders are busy doing rounds of Mantralaya for cabinet expansion rather than raising farmers' issues. They have let down the farmers," he said.

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