Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday alleged that the tenders floated for the city’s waterways projects favoured a businessman in exchange for the withdrawal of his candidature from the Rajya Sabha (RS) polls.
Fadnavis made this allegation without naming the businessman during a discussion on the state budget presented on Monday. Finance minister Ajit Pawar had mentioned the western and eastern waterways project in his budget speech. The state government has also made a budgetary provision of Rs250 crore for the western waterways, while the eastern waterways project will be carried out on a build-operate-transfer basis.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the agency that will execute the projects, is headed by Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Tenders for the two projects were floated recently. Though Fadnavis did not name anyone, it is common knowledge that the NCP had reportedly convinced Pune-based businessman Sanjay Kakde to pull out of the RS fray to ensure their candidate’s victory.
Fadnavis said that Kakde’s firm was given the contract for western waterways some years ago, which got cancelled owing to viability concerns. “The said businessman will win the bid this time too...,” he said.
NCP leader and public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal said: “He withdrew as the political situation didn’t favour him.”
Kakde said that the party did not approach him. “When the NCP fielded three candidates, I knew I would not get their support. So, I told my 16 independent [MLAs] supporters that we must respect Pawar’s wish of having unopposed polls. And they [MLAs] agreed.”