Vilasrao Deshmukh faces corruption charges

December 18th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNagpur, Dec 18 (IANS) Former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was Thursday accused of stealthily getting tender pre-qualification norms changed to favour a company in which his son and son of central Congress leader Ahmed Patel have stakes.Senior Bharatiya Janata Party member Nitin Gadkari levelled the allegations against Deshmukh in the Maharashtra legislative council.

The tender, he said, for the Rs.20 billion-worth project pertained to extension of Pune-Mumbai Expressway from Panvel, 34 km off Mumbai, to Sion in central Mumbai.

Deshmukh wanted infrastructure development major Indiabulls to get the works contract as his son Amit and son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel have stakes in the company, Gadkari said.

Giving details of the “deceitful” manner in which Deshmukh short-circuited the procedure, Gadkari said the ex-chief minister, in collusion with the then public enterprises minister Anil Deshmukh, issued a directive, through then secretary to the chief minister C.S. Sangitrao, to Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to issue a tender notice within 24 hours calling for pre-qualification bids for the works.

The standard norms were changed to facilitate participation of Indiabulls in the prequalification bids bypassing the cabinet sub-committee empowered to pass tenders, though it was shown that the sub-committee meeting was held, Gadkari alleged.

MSRDC incidentally got the directive Nov 26, the day Mumbai was struck by terrorists and the tender notice was published next day (Nov 27) in a national English daily, said Gadkari, who as public works minister in the 1995-99 Shiv Sena-BJP government got the expressway laid in record time.

“The cabinet sub committee members, including then deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, then finance minister Jayant Patil, public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal and irrigation minister Ajit Pawar were completely in the dark when this happened,” Gadkari said.

The senior lawmaker, who is also BJP’s state unit chief, brought up the issue before the legislative council through a calling attention motion.

Submitting documents supporting his allegations to council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh, Gadkari said, he would resign from his membership and quit politics if his charges were proved wrong.

The council chairman issued directive to examine the documents.

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