Cong alleges Smriti Irani misused MPLAD funds, demands resignation

Accusing Union Minister Smriti Irani of corruption in spending the MPLAD funds, Congress on Thursday demanded that she should be sacked from Cabinet and an FIR be registered.

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Accusing Union Minister Smriti Irani of corruption in spending the MPLAD funds, Congress on Thursday demanded that she should be sacked from Cabinet and an FIR be registered.
Citing No 4 2018 CAG report, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala and Gujarat MLA Shaktisinh Gohil asked will Prime Minister Narendra Modi show the courage to sack Ms Irani immediately.
“The CAG implicated for making payment of Rs 5.93 crore from MPLAD funds, without tender, including fraudulent payment of Rs 84.53 Lakhs”, Congress leaders said.
Mr Surjewala said that the time has come to sack Ms Irani and lodge an FIR against her for proper investigation under Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and different provisions of Indian Penal Code.
Quoting from the CAG report, Mr Surjewala and Mr Gohil said Ms Irani selected Anand as her nodal district for implementation of works under the MPLAD Scheme after she was elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.
The leaders pointed out that initially, the MPLAD projects were being executed by Gujarat State Rural Development Co-operation (GSRDCL), but this co-operation was closed.
“Subsequently on instructions of PA to Ms Irani, the works were awarded to Shri Sharda Majdoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli, Kheda. This was in complete derogation of MPLAD guidelines, particularly Clause 2.11”, Congress leaders said.
Describing the details, Mr Gohil said that the selection of the implementing agency should be udertaken in accordance with the state government rule and guidelines applicable for the purpose.
Provided that for certain works in Central government Ministries or organisations where the implementing agency has necessarily to be the concerned Central government Ministry or organisation, the same should be selected as the Implementing Agency.
“However, Ms Irani prohibited the selection of implementing agencies and this is a root cause of corruption”, he said.
Shri Sharda Majdoor Mandli was selected without any due procedure or agreement and purely on instructions of PA of Ms Irani, he added.
Furthering the allegation, Congress leaders said that Shri Sharda Majdoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli, selected by Ms Irani was supposed to be a co-operative society of construction labourers, but all the members belong to the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).

According to Congress leaders, in 2016 the Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli claimed Rs 45.20 Lakhs for the renovation of the same Panchayat building for which amount was granted in the preceding year and the amount was sanctioned too.
“The Mandli also claimed payment for several other works in 9 villages including construction of protection walls in crematoriums, schools etc. But it was found that not a single brick had been laid at any of these places though funds had been disbursed to them”, leaders said.
“An audit was carried out and the outcome clearly indicates that the fund which was allotted out of MPLAD grant of Ms Irani for carrying out several works for which the payment was made to Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandali, 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.

They also said that Anand district collector had written a letter dated June 20, 2017 to the Gujarat government pointing out the irregularities and the fraud being committed under the grants received under MPLAD.

“CAG in its Report No 4 of the year 2018 has indicted Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli for having being awarded 232 works without tender and for making payment worth Rs 5.93 crore including ‘a fraudulent payment of Rs 84.53 Lakh’”, they said.
Leaders said that Gujarat MLA Amit Chavda filed a PIL in the Gujarat High Court demanding probe against Ms Irani.

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