Citing a CAG report indicting Union Minister Smriti Irani for making a payment of nearly Rs 6 crore from MPLAD funds without a tender, the Congress on Thursday demanded her sacking and also registering an FIR against the BJP MP from Gujarat.
“Time has come to sack Union Minister Smriti Irani and lodge an FIR against her for proper investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act, and different provisions of Indian Penal Code,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted pointing to the CAG findings.
“This is a clear-cut case of misuse of office and fraud vis-a-vis public money and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately sack Irani and order for initiating criminal proceedings against her.”
The CAG report on the general and social sector for the year ended March 2017, has charged Irani with “injudicious awarding of works under MPLADS to an NGO without inviting tenders resulted in irregular payment of Rs 5.93 crore including fraudulent payment of Rs 84.53 lakh to the NGO”.
Irani, the Union Textile Minister, selected Anand district as her nodal district for implementation of works under the MPLAD scheme.
“Audit observed that the selection of the NGO (Sharda Majoor Kamdar Co-operative Society), as implementing authority was in contravention of the scheme guidelines and government instructions, as no tender procedure was followed for its selection,” reads the report.
Reporting the matter to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat, the CAG recommended investigating all the works by the NGO.
“Since the tendering process, scope of work awarded and payment processes were violated, therefore audit is of the view that these works are susceptible to fraudulent and irregular payments.
“Audit recommends that the State Government should investigate all the works carried out by the NGO and fix responsibility on the Government officials responsible for the negligence. The matter was reported to the Government (September 2017). Reply is awaited (February 2018),” the report added.
Congress Gujarat MLA and spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the NGO selected by Irani is supposed to be a co-operative society of construction labourers, but all the members actually belong to the BJP.
Gohil also referred to a letter by the Anand district collector written on June 20, 2017, to the Deputy Secretary, General Administration Department, Gujarat pointing out the irregularities and the fraud being committed under the grants received under MPLAD.
Gujarat Congress MLA Amit Chavda has also filed a PIL in the Gujarat High Court demanding an FIR against Irani.