Taxpayers’ money to fund Maharashtra minister’s daughter’s foreign education?
BJP minister Rajkumar Badole’s daughter, Shruti Badole, will pursue a Doctorate in Philosophy in Astronomy and Astrophysics for three years at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdommumbai Updated: Sep 07, 2017 14:42 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government plans to use taxpayers’ money to fund the foreign education of a BJP minister’a daughter by giving her a special scholarship meant to promote good quality higher education among Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Dalits.
BJP minister Rajkumar Badole’s daughter, Shruti Badole, will pursue a Doctorate in Philosophy in Astronomy and Astrophysics for three years at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. The state government will fund her tuition fee and her return economy ticket. It will also pay her 9,000 pounds, which is more than Rs .5 lakh, as an annual stipend, and an additional fund of 1,000 pounds, which is about Rs 83,000, for other academic expenses.
The BJP minister, a legislator from Gondia’s Arjuni Morgaon constituency, declared family assets of more than Rs 60 lakh during the 2014 legislative assembly election.
Incidentally, Badole is the minister of the social justice and special assistance department, which administers the scholarship, triggering allegations of conflict of interest and misuse of funds. Besides Badole’s daughter, the list of 35 students this year whose education taxpayers will foot also includes the name of the social justice department’s secretary’s son. IAS Officer Dinesh Waghmare’s son, Antariksh, will study at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States doing a Master of Science in Information System.
The scholarship is granted to a maximum of 50 students from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Dalit families who have secured admission in any of the top 300 universities across the globe for post-graduate or PhD education.
While the scholarship used to be given to only those whose annual family income was below Rs 6 lakh, the state government amended norms in 2013 to waive this condition for students who have secured admission in the top 100 universities.
The social justice department and its secretary have defended the move saying Badole’s daughter and Waghmare’s son made the cut on their own merit and no norms were changed to ensure that they are selected.
Waghmare told HT, “The selection committee used to be under my chairmanship, but because we were aware that our children were applicants, we kept away from the process. The chief minister constituted a new committee this year under the chief secretary’s chairmanship.”
He added that both Shruti and Antariksh were adults and applied independently, and the fact that their fathers are a minister and a secretary is no reason for their disqualification.
The opposition has slammed the state government’s move. Congress’ Sachin Sawant called it the double-speak of the BJP-led Maharashtra government. “On one hand, the prime minister appeals to people to give up gas subsidy and the state government tells well-to-do farmers to refuse the loan waiver, but on the other hand, the minister is misusing a scheme for his daughter.”