Vinod Tawde under fire over graft charges in Maharashtra minority affairs department
The department cancelled the work proposals after the fraud came to light in April this year, but no police complaint has been registeredmumbai Updated: Sep 23, 2017 00:28 IST
Vinod Tawde, state minority affairs and education minister, is facing flak for alleged wrong-doing by bureaucrats under him in the allotment of Rs2 crores for development work.
The main accused Shashikant Salunkhe, an official in the minority affairs department has been suspended from service, but he has now alleged that he was following orders from Charudutt Shinde, still serving as officer on special duty (OSD) with Tawde. HT has a copy of the letter Salunkhe wrote to the principal secretary, minority affairs, Shyam Tagade, making these accusations.
Tawde said there was no substance in the allegations against his OSD, Shinde. Shinde, himself refused to comment on the matter. Tagade said the fraud was committed by the desk officer.
The department cancelled the work proposals after the fraud came to light in April this year, but no police complaint has been registered. The opposition now wants Tawde’s resignation and anti-corruption bureau (ACB) probe in the case.
“It’s a clear case of corruption. The minister’s office was taking a percentage as bribe for releasing funds under the scheme. The matter needs to be investigated by the ACB and Tawde should resign from the post until the probe is completed,” said Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson.
The state minority affairs department runs a scheme that provides funds worth Rs 60 crore each year for infrastructure development in minority-dominated urban and rural areas. Normally, legislators demand funds under the scheme for specific works for their respective constituencies.
It was found that the desk officer used to add development works in the government orders over and above what was approved by the minister. The matter came to light after two legislators confronted Tawde for not releasing funds despite assurance, the sources said.
Replying to a show cause issued by the minority affairs department, the accused desk officer in a letter written on June 23 had claimed all the development works were added on the orders given by the minister’s OSD, whom he also accused of demanding cash.
“We have suspended the desk officer for committing the fraud and procedure for initiating departmental enquiry against him is under process,” Tagade told HT. Asked why a police complaint had not been filed, he said they hadn’t found substance in the allegations made by the desk officer. The minister’s OSD has denied all the allegations. “Salunkhe is free to approach the police,” Tagade added.
The principal secretary added that even if one assumes that any OSD was pressurizing the desk officer, he should have approached senior officials of the department with this issue.