Office-of-profit row: Appointment of Shiv Sena leaders struck down

Updated: Feb 26, 2020, 07:30 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

In major embarrassment to CM Uddhav Thackeray, government cancels the appointments of Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar as chief coordinator in the CMO and party MP Arvind Sawant as head of state parliamentary panel

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

In a big setback to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Maharashtra government has cancelled the appointment of Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar as chief coordinator in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) and that of party MP Arvind Sawant as head of State Parliamentary Coordination Committee. The action follows mid-day's report on February 20, 'Two Uddhav Thackeray appointees in the office-of-profit soup.'

There is a buzz within the Sena and Mantralaya corridors, that to avoid embarrassment for the ruling saffron party, the two Sena leaders were asked to furnish a letter claiming they do not want to take up the assignment.

Arvind Sawant and Ravindra Waikar
Arvind Sawant and Ravindra Waikar 

In early February, Thackeray Sr had cleared the appointment of Waikar and Sawant for two key positions. On February 20, mid-day reported that the appointment cleared by the chief minister is likely to trigger an office-of-profit controversy. A chief minister usually appoints people from his/her own party (MPs or MLAs) to help with parliamentary work. But according to rules, an office-of-profit means a position in government that brings financial gains, remuneration or a position which yields salaries, perquisites and other benefits in the government. It refers to a post under the central/state government. This post cannot be held by a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) or Member of Parliament (MP). Realising that this issue will create trouble for the ruling state government, especially Thackeray, the administration, the same evening (February 20) issued a Government Resolution (GR) announcing cancellation of two appointments.

'Will not take perks'

Talking to mid-day earlier, Waikar had claimed that there is no office-of-profit case and he will not give up the post. However, when this paper tried connecting with the Sena MLA after cancellation of his appointment order was issued, he was unavailable for comment. Sawant was also not reachable.

Uddhav ThackerayUddhav Thackeray

A senior Mantralaya official said, "A section of senior bureaucrats was against the move as in the long run the appointment would certainly have led to controversy. But, since the CM wanted to proceed with the same, the orders were issued without vetting them any further. Now that ruling political leaders have realised the mistake, the orders were withdrawn." A Sena functionary said there is no question of the leaders benefiting from the order, as neither had accepted the appointment. "The two party leaders had not accepted the appointment, so there is no need for resignations. The GR was issued for appointment, but as both declined the offer, the administration came up with a document for cancellation of appointment," the Sena leader added.

Year Congress leader Sonia Gandhi had to resign from Lok Sabha over the office-of-profit controversy

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