Pankaja Munde gets clean chit by ACB in ‘chikki’ case

Mumbai : In a relief for Maharashtra Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has give her a clean chit in the ‘chikki’ case pertaining to alleged irregularities in awarding contracts for materials worth Rs 206 crore for school children.

“The ACB has closed the case. There was nothing to substantiate allegations against her,” an ACB official said today.

He said ACB’s Additional CP Keshav Patil had, in a letter to MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant, informed the Congress leader that no “truth” was found in the allegations against Munde.

Sawant had last year lodged a complaint with the ACB demanding an inquiry into the allegations against Munde and submitted a file of documents purportedly supporting the charges.

The minister was accused of flouting procedures in awarding contracts for supplying items like ‘chikki’ (sweetmeat made with nuts and jaggery), mats, notebooks, water filters, etc, for school children.

Munde had earlier rubbished the charges and said she was prepared for any inquiry.
“This is a scam of words. The allegations against me are politically motivated,” Pankaja, the daughter of late Union minister Gopinath Munde, had said.

The earlier Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had purchased similar items at a cost of Rs 408 crore, she said.

“You term that a ‘purchase’ and call our procurement a ‘scam’,” she had said.

Claiming that the items were purchased at a higher price by the previous government, Munde said the charges against her were totally baseless.

Munde had accused the opposition of pinning the scam on to a BJP minister, and said there was nothing wrong in the purchases made through the rate contract system.

Sawant had said “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has a habit of giving clean chits and he has said that prima facie, he did not find anything wrong. Thus, we submitted all the documents we had as evidence to the ACB,” Sawant had earlier said.