Dominating the supply of ration in the Centre's ambitious Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Maharashtra's private contractors - who have their hands deep in the Rs. 1,000 crore pie -seem to be politically quite influential.
HT found that at least two beneficiary firms are owned by persons well known in the state's political circles.
As per a report filed by the office of the commissioners to the Supreme Court, Swapnil Agro - owned by senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde's aide Satish Munde - is among the six private contractors supplying ration and meals to poor children and mothers in Maharashtra to fronts run by their own family.The firms reportedly violated an SC order, stating that only self-help groups, mahila mandals and village communities could get the contracts.
The Satish Munde-owned company was contracted by a sub-committee of the Venkateshwara Mahila Audyogik Sahakari Sanstha. Satish's wife Vanmala and daughter Swati were on the committee.
Another firm, Indo-Allied Protein Foods, is owned by Rajan Shankar Jadhav and Vivek Shankar Jadhav.
The report points out that Rajan's wife and sisters-in-law - are members of Mahalaxmi Mahila Sanstha's sub-committee which awarded the contract to Indo-Allied.
Vivek Shankar, well known in the state's power corridors, is a director in Shivalik Ventures, a construction firm in Mumbai.
Satish said his only relation to Munde was that they both were born in Nathra village in Parli tehsil, Beed district. Saying that the SC report issue was sub-judice, he refused comment on it.
Munde told HT: "I know Satish but we are not related. I have no business interests with him...But if he is found guilty, he should be punished."
However, sources said Munde often visits Satish's residence.