Smriti Irani is the only Member of Parliament who has been shifted from several ministries starting from HRD to Information and Broadcasting and now Textiles. Often, she is in the news for her personal attacks on Congress President Rahul Gandhi, while she is also termed as the ‘Troll minister” by many in the opposition.
While citing a CAG report last week, the Congress accused the union minister of “fraud and bungling” in Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds in Gujarat. They even demanded her immediate sacking from the Narendra Modi government and lodging of a case against her.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Shaktisinh Gohil claimed the CAG has said that she has made payment of Rs. 5.93 crore from MPLAD funds without tender including fraudulent payment of Rs 84.53 lakh.
“There is major bungling, fraud and misuse of public funds allocated under MPLAD scheme to union minister Smriti Irani and she stands exposed by the CAG Report number 4 of 2018,” Surjewala alleged.
“Time has come to sack Union Minister Smriti Irani and lodge an FIR against her for proper investigation under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and different provisions of Indian Penal Code,” he demanded.
Gohil claimed even the collector of Anand district had written a letter 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.
“Will PM Modi show the courage of conviction to sack Union Minister Smriti Irani immediately,” Surjewala and Gohil asked.
Ms Irani, the Union Textile Minister, selected Anand district as her nodal district for implementation of works under the MPLAD scheme.
The 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.
Reporting the matter to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat, the CAG recommended investigating all the works by the NGO.
The report further read,
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.
No immediate comment was available from Irani or her office on the charges. However, this morning, despite the allegations, she has ironically tweeted her support in defeating corruption.