Hit by corruption allegations against state minister Pankaja Munde and embarrassed by the Raj Purohit tapes, the BJP has gone into damage control mode ahead of the monsoon session of the state assembly (July 13 to 31).
The state BJP on Saturday issued a show-cause notice to Purohit, its MLA from Colaba, asking him to clarify his stance on the disparaging remarks he was allegedly caught making about the party and its leaders in a sting operation aired on TV channels.
Meanwhile Munde, who is holidaying in London, has been fighting off calls for her resignation and defending her decision to award dubious contracts worth Rs 206 crore in a single day. She has also made it clear that she has no plans to resign over the controversy.
The state BJP’s notice to Purohit mentions that TV channels are broadcasting a sting operation in which he was caught making disparaging remarks about the party and its leaders. It adds that such an act is tantamount to breach of party discipline and orders Purohit to send his defence, in writing, to the state BJP president in three days.
In the sting operation tapes, Purohit can be seen criticising the BJP for not making him a minister despite his seniority, and blaming fellow legislator Mangal Prabhat Lodha for it. He was also critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his policies towards traders.
Purohit has denied making the statements, claiming the tapes were doctored to tarnish his reputation and ruin his chances of becoming a minister.
Munde, meanwhile, has been accused of using an old method of awarding contracts, in which prices are fixed through negotiations, instead of inviting bids from prospective suppliers through a process called e-tendering.
The opposition has been critical of this, as e-tendering was brought it to boost transparency and accountability. But Munde has termed the allegations a political conspiracy. “Only my department has been targeted even though all others have made purchases with this method. There is not an iota of truth in the corruption allegations. All rules were followed when awarding the contracts,” she said.
Nonetheless, the opposition plans to make the upcoming session of the legislature as difficult as possible for the BJP-led government. “We will not spare this government and will expose it both inside and outside the assembly,” said Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam. “The BJP has fooled the people enough and now they have been exposed,” he added.
Saamna taunts Fadnavis
Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Saturday said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was capable of handling the current situation but also wondered why ministers such as Pankaja Munde and Vinod Tawde – who are also seen as future chief ministers – were being targeted all of a sudden.
The editorial went on to say, sarcastically, that Fadnavis would ensure that the government is run in just and transparent manner.