In Maharashtra politics, it looks like what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.
While in the Opposition in 2013-14, the BJP and Shiv Sena leaders had sought a probe in the tribal development department’s purchase of chikki with micronutrients (nutritional bar) worth Rs 37 crore, as the contract had not be given through open tenders.
The department stayed the contract for chikki and protein powder meant for tribal children in June 2013.
Two years later, the BJP government’s women and child development department, headed by Pankaja Munde, cleared a similar contract for chikki worth Rs 75 crore, increasing the quantity and purchase price, while opting for the same rate-fixation method instead of the e-tendering.
This purchase, part of the Rs 206 crore contracts given by Munde’s department in February this year, has created a storm and has been termed as the first scam to hit the Devendra Fadnavis-led government.
During the monsoon session of the state legislature in 2013, former Sena leader and now health minister Deepak Sawant, and senior BJP leaders Vinod Tawde and Nitin Gadkari had claimed that just calling for a stay on the contract was not enough and a probe should be carried out in the matter.
The then Opposition had questioned how such a purchase was cleared when the principal secretary (SMI) and development commissioner, Radhika Rastogi, had ruled that work order of Rs 37 crore should be stayed.
Rastogi, in June 2013, had said the Central Store Purchase Organisation had not done any rate contract for chikki, but rate fixation.
“Rate fixation is for small orders and reservation is given for certain items produced by women’s groups, societies, etc. In the present case, where purchase is to the tune of Rs 37 crore, it is advised that purchase based on rate fixation will not be appropriate. Open tender procedure needs to be followed,” the order had said. The copy of the noting is with HT.
A high court order by the Nagpur bench on a PIL filed in 2012 had also said the government should opt for open tenders for all purchases done through women’s groups, co-operative societies and ex-servicemen’s groups.
Now, as Fadnavis and Munde are busy defending the allegations on the grounds that this had been done before by the Opposition, they may find themselves in a sticky situation.