Smriti Irani Accused In Rs 6 Cr Scam: INC Points To CAG Report
Irani is accused of diverting public money to a co-operative society, all the members of which belong to the BJP.
In a press conference today, March 14, the congress alleged that a 2018 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report implicates Union Minister Smriti Irani for making payment of Rs 5.93 crore, including fraudulent payment of Rs 84.53 lakh, from Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) funds without issuing a tender.
Speaking to the media, spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala & Shakti Singh Gohil, said that “the only option was for Smriti Irani to be sacked forthwith, and an FIR under Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 must be filed against her.” They said that this was a ‘clear-cut case of misuse of office, of financial-bungling, and of fraud vis-a-vis the public money.’ Pointing to CAG report No. 4 of 2018, the Congress alleges that there was massive misuse of public funds allocated under MPLAD Scheme to Smriti Irani.
After becoming a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat in 2011, Irani selected Anand District as her nodal district for implementation of works under the MPLAD Scheme. Initially, per the Congress’ allegations, the MPLAD Projects were being executed by Gujarat State Rural Development Co-operation (GSRDCL). GSRDCL was closed/wound up in 2015.
Rules of the concerned State government are to be followed for the selection of the agency for implementation of works. However, the party said that merely on instruction of Irani’s personal assistant, Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli, Kheda was selected as the implementation agency. This was, Congress alleges, in complete derogation of MPLAD guidelines, particularly undermining clause 2.11 of the guidelines which states that “The District Authority shall make the selection of an appropriate Implementing Agency through which a particular work recommended by an MP would be executed.” The MP is prohibited per the guidelines from selecting the implementing agencies because that is, the spokespersons said, the “root cause of corruption.”
In this instance, that Congress says that Sharda Majoor Mandli was selected without any due procedure or agreement and purely on instructions Smriti Irani’s PA.
Furthermore, the Congress claims that Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli, carefully selected by Smriti Irani, is a supposed to be a co-operative society of construction labourers, “but all the members actually belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”
Alleging massive blunders in dealing with the allotted funds, the Congress said that Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli claimed Rs 45.20 Lakhs for the renovation of the a Panchayat building, and for several works in nine villages. The panchayat building had already been granted money in the preceding year, while “not a single brick had been laid” at any of these villages irrespective of funds having been sanctioned to them.
Corroborating the Congress party’s allegation, an Audit report cited in the press release clarifies that no such work was done by Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli and no records related to any such work were made available to Gram Panchayat/ Nagar Palika. Few instances of irregularities and fraud pointed out in the Auditor’s Report are annexed as A1.
Allegedly, even the collector of Anand district had written a letter dated 20th June 2017 to the Deputy Secretary, General Administration Department, Gujarat pointing out the irregularities and the fraud being committed under the grants received under MPLAD.
Per the CAG Report shared by Congress, Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli is accused for having being awarded 232 works without tender.
Following the allegations, in the conference today, Shakti Sinha Gohil said, that while ‘Modi and morals always travel in opposite directions, but if they claim to be so ethical, will the PM show the courage of conviction to sack Union Minister Smriti Irani immediately?’
The Bharatiya Janata Party has not responded to the allegations.