The Maharashtra anti-corruption bureau (ACB) on Wednesday gave a clean-chit to beleaguered state women and child development minister Pankaja Munde in the chikki scam. Although the agency’s closure report has come as a relief to the minister, the Opposition has launched a scathing attack against the Fadnavis government for allegedly shielding her. Amid attacks and counter attacks over alleged irregularities in the purchase of chikki, here are the five things we know about the scam:
1. The controversy relates to awarding of chikki contracts worth Rs206 crore for school children. In June 2015, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant had filed a complaint with the ACB, alleging Munde’s ministry had, on her orders, flouted rules and favoured certain companies when awarding contracts worth Rs206 crore in February.
2. One Suryakanta Mahila Audyogik Sanstha (SMAS) was awarded a contract worth for Rs113 crore allegedly without due process. SMAS had quoted a price of Rs285 per kg of chikki, even though other groups had allegedly sought Rs127 per kg. Significantly, the department responsible for awarding contracts had opposed the contract to SMAS in April 2013. Radhika Rastogi, then industries development commissioner, had categorically said the contract should be awarded only by inviting tenders.
3. Two government resolutions (GRs), among the 24, were for the purchase of the same items — electronic physiogrowth monitors (EPGM), which are used to track the health of malnourished children. Two firms from north Maharashtra were awarded the contracts for Rs6 crore and Rs18 crore.
4. Sachin Sawant, spokesperson for the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, said the chief minister is backing corrupt ministers and legislators. “If the state doesn’t want to act on complaints of corruption, they should shut the ACB,” Sawant told reporters on Wednesday. He demanded that the government make the details of the investigation public.
5. Munde said she had always maintained no irregularities were committed and the allegations were meant to defame her. “The ACB sought an explanation from my department on the allegations. After examining charges, the agency concluded there was no truth in them,” Munde told HT