Who is Pankaja Munde?
Pankaja Munde is the eldest daughter of the late cabinet minister Gopinath Munde. She has been the Minister of Rural Development, Women & Child Welfare and Water Conservation since 31 October 2014.
Pankaja Munde enmeshed in Rs. 206 crore scam
- Maharashtra Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde was put in a tight spot for defying norms.
- This happened after news emerged regarding her department outflanking rules while ordering for material worth Rs. 206 crore.
- Pankaja cleared away 24 purchase orders to buy books, mats and chikki for anganwadi schools in a single day without inviting tenders, which goes directly against the government policy.
Pankaj's reply to the allegations
Pankaja said that her department had not circumvented any laws and "rules were not violated. All purchases were done as per rules".
Opposition seeks Munde's resignation
- The Congress party organised a dharna against Pankaja Munde asking for her to resign.
- They were even considering filing a writ petition in the Bombay High Court.
- Acting on a formal complaint by the state Congress party, the Anti Corrution Bureau asked for a detailed response from the principal secretary of the Department of Woman & Child Welfare over the Rs. 206 crore scam.
Fadnavis assures Modi of no wrongdoing
- Maharashta Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Narendra Modi and assued him that there had been "no prima facie evidence" of any wrongdoing in Pankaja Munde case.
- Fadnavis also confirmed having ordered a probe after going over the "minute details".
- He also told reporters that Pankaja Munde had personally called him to ask him to seek an enquiry if he felt the need.
Fadnavis backs Pankaja's decision
- The Maharashtra government put its weight behind Pankaja Munde justifying her actions.
- They said that she had sanctioned purchases in February because the funds given by the Centre under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) would have expired on 31 March.
- Moreover, the rule of inviting e-tenders for purchases worth Rs. 3 lakh and more was not introduced by Fadnavis' government till April.
Savant facing threats: Pankaja Munde case
- Sachin Sawant, Maharashtra Congress spokesperson asserted that he was being subjected to "threatening calls", after he had filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau against Pankaja Munde.
- He claimed that he had been called 40 times from anonymous numbers; "some threatened to kill me while others wanted me to apologise to Pankaja".
- Sawant's security has been tightened with two constables stationed at his place.