Opposition BJP on Thursday accused Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of doing a U-turn on the mandate of a committee probing the irrigation scam under pressure from alliance partner NCP and demanded the panel be brought under the Commission of Inquiry Act.
“Chavan had promised that the Madhav Chitale committee would probe irregularities in the irrigation scam under the Commission of Inquiry Act. However, he retracted his statement,” Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse told reporters in Mumbai.
The senior BJP leader was reacting to Mr. Chavan’s reported remarks in which he sought to explain the role of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Chitale panel as to identify past mistakes in the irrigation projects and merely look into technical discrepancies.
The remarks are perceived as Mr. Chavan cosying up to the NCP ahead of elections.
“Why did Chavan make a U-turn? I wonder whether Congress ministers are also involved in this scam,” Mr. Khadse said.
“The Chitale committee should be brought under the Commission of Inquiry Act. Chavan is covering up the issue. We want to know under whose pressure he has changed his stand,” the BJP leader alleged.
Mr. Khadse’s counterpart in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde alleged the Chitale Committee was not accepting evidence of “wrongdoings” the BJP had, despite the state government’s affidavit in the high court.
Mr. Tawde was referring to an undertaking submitted earlier by Maharashtra Advocate General in the high court saying anybody in possession of proof related to the scam can submit it before the panel.
The SIT, headed by water resources expert Madhav Chitale, was appointed last December in the light of public outrage over rampant corruption in irrigation projects.
Allegations of corruption were raised against Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare among others in the irrigation scam.