Trouble for Maharashtra govt as Oppn won’t let chikki row die down
While the women and child welfare department led by minister Pankaja Munde is firm on its stand over the alleged chikki (nutrition bar) row, the Opposition is all set to corner the Maharashtra government on the issue this week.
Munde has refuted allegations of wrongdoing in the purchase of chikki and other material meant for the anganwadis under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Reiterating her stand in the Assembly on Friday, the minister said although the purchases were made through rate contract, the quality was not sub-standard.
In a written reply to a question raised by Varsha Gaikwad (Congress) and other legislators whether the Rs80-crore supply contract was given in April under the rate contract system , Munde said, “According to a government circular dated April 17, any purchase worth more than Rs1 crore is to be done through competitive bidding, and not rate contract. On June 30, the limit was reduced to Rs50 lakh.” The purchases were made by Munde’s department in February.
Ruling out the possibility of action against supplier Suryakanta Women’s Industrial Cooperative Limited, Munde said they were given contracts in 2012-13 and 2013-14, but the department did not get any complaint regarding the quality.
The minister has been firm on her stand, since the time the Congress alleged a scam in the purchase last month. “Our stand remains unchanged and will be reiterated when the issue comes for debate in the legislature,” said a top official from the department.
The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party plan to raise the chikki scam and hooch tragedy in the legislature next week. Both the major parties in the Opposition have joined hands and decided to fight against the government, which is on a sticky wicket owing to various allegations in the past couple of months. The Congress is insistent on cornering the government on loan waiver for farmers.
The NCP, on the other hand, is in a hurry to target the BJP over corruption cases and build pressure on the government to subdue action against its leaders facing corruption cases. “We have been assured by our ally [NCP] that they will stand by us in the fight against the government. In case, the NCP leaves us midway, we will fight on our own,” said a Congress leader.