Smriti irani
A file image of Smriti Irani | Facebook
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Anand’s district collector, whose ‘order’ the Congress is quoting, said the inquiry and allegations were against officials and contractors but not Irani.

New Delhi: The Gujarat Congress has launched a blistering attack on union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly misappropriating her MPLAD funds in her adopted village in Gujarat’s Anand district, demanding her resignation.

The district collector of Anand whose ‘order’ the Congress is quoting, however, said the inquiry and allegations were against “officials and contractors but not Irani”.

Amit Chavda, president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, Saturday put out a series of tweets, claiming Irani had “misappropriated funds received under MPLAD scheme” and “violated norms” in awarding contracts to an organisation called Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli.

Controversial order

Chavda said he had filed a PIL in the Gujarat high court in July 2017 and the district collector of Anand had issued orders to Mandli which was awarded contracts to repay a certain amount.

Irani is a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat and has adopted Maghrol village in Anand district under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).

Chavda has quoted an ‘order’ dated February 2018, which directs the Mandli to return Rs 2.95 crore to the government treasury with 18 per cent interest, adding up to Rs 4.08 crore.

Reached by ThePrint, Dhaval Kumar Patel — who was the district collector of Anand when the February ‘order’ being quoted by the Congress was issued but took over as DC, Surat district in April — first said he “wasn’t sure what letter was being referred to” and that he was “the collector of Surat, not Anand”.

When pointed out the ‘order’ being circulated by the Congress is from the period when he was Anand collector and the signature says ‘Dhaval’, he said he had issued the order, but they were for “the officials who had awarded the contract as well as the Mandli, but not Irani”.

Photo of the order Chavda tweeted | @AmitChavdaINC

“This has nothing to do with her,” he said.

ThePrint could not verify if the document being circulated by the Congress is indeed the one that Dhaval had issued.

ThePrint tried to get in touch with Irani’s team through text messages and calls, as well as Irani through text messages, but did not get a response until the time of publication. Her response will be carried as soon as it’s received.

The ‘order’, in Gujarati, starts by saying (rough translation): “Enclosing review of the work done through Smriti Irani’s MPLAD fund approved by Anand district office and carried out by Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli…,” going on to lay down the details. That is the only time the ‘order’ mentions Irani.

The Congress’s allegations

“.@smritiirani adopted Maghrol in Anand District to make it a “model village” & She did a stupendous job of making it as a model for the corruption and blatant misuse of the power. She misappropriated fund received under her MPLAD scheme. @SmritiIrani illegally used her MPLAD fund in violation of the guidelines for their use. Moreover @SmritiIrani and her staff insisted and coerced official into to awarding contracts to one Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli. This also violated the norm that contracts worth more than ₹50 lakh cannot be awarded to one group under the PMLAD scheme (sic),” Chavda alleged in his tweets.

“This cooperative got work contracts worth many times above prescribed limit. During inspection in the month of June 2017 it had also come to fore that work was not up to the mark. And also there was discrepancy between the estimates and the actual cost. Also, Even though in many cases projects were never completed, but full money was paid to this shady cooperative & money kept flowing to them. I had filed PIL in Gujarat High Court in July 2017 & had bought this gross misappropriation of power and funds to the light (sic),” he said in his tweets.

“Today I am happy to note that, Anand District Collector has issued order to the @SmritiIrani’s proxy, Sharda Majoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli to repay ₹4.8 Cr at the earliest with 18% annual interest! Satyamev Jayate! (sic)” his final tweet read, along with a copy of the ‘order’.

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