Even six hours after Congress demanded sacking of Union textiles minister Smriti Irani for fraud in utilisation of MPLAD fund, neither the BJP nor the minister had responded. Normally quick on Twitter, their handles on Thursday evening were conspicuous by their silence.
Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala had earlier released a set of documents to establish that Smriti Irani, contrary to rules, had specified an NGO to carry out projects under the MP’s Local Area Development Fund. What is more, the NGO comprising BJP workers, was found to have been paid without completing the projects assigned.
A CAG report found fraudulent payment of ₹84.53 lakh to a cooperative society of BJP members for works in a village of Anand district of Gujarat adopted by her.
Initially, the MPLAD projects were being executed by Gujarat State Rural Development Co-operation (GSRDCL). Following the termination of the arrangement with the rural development co-operation was closed, the works were awarded to Sharda Majdoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli, Kheda under instructions from the textiles minister’s secretariat.
This was in violation of the MPLAD guidelines which required the district authority to select an appropriate implementing agency.
MPLAD guidelines prohibit members of parliament from selecting the implementing agencies, this being the root cause of corruption.
Payment was made to Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandali for works of which no records were made available to Gram Panchayat and Nagar Palika
Sharda Majdoor Mandli was selected without following the prescribed procedure purely on instructions of the minister’s personal assistant
Citing the CAG report, which found fraud and bungling by Union textiles minister Smriti Irani in making payments amounting to ₹5.93 crore from her MPLAD funds to a cooperative society of BJP members, All India Congress party spokesmen Randeep Singh Surjewala and Shaktisinh Gohil demanded Irani’s prosecution under the prevention of corruption act and her immediate dismissal from the Modi government.
CAG detected major instances of bungling in execution of works from MPLAD funds by this society. In 2016 the Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli which also claimed ₹45.20 Lakh for the renovation of the same Panchayat building for which amount was granted and released in the preceding year.
The Mandli also claimed payment for several other works in nine villages including construction of protection walls in crematoriums, schools and other buildings. It was found that not a single brick had been laid at any of these places though funds had been disbursed for them.
Payment was made to Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandali for works of which no records were made available to Gram Panchayat and Nagar Palika.
Even Anand district collector had written a letter on June 20, 2017 to the deputy secretary, general administration department of Gujarat government pointing out the irregularities and fraud being committed under the MPLAD grants received.
CAG in its report No 4 of 2018 has indicted Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli for having being awarded 232 works without tender and for making payment worth ₹5.93 Crore including a fraudulent payment of ₹84.53 Lakh.