The Heat Is on

An e-ten­der­ing scam, an ex-min­is­ter from the BJP, in­trigue fol­lows in­ves­ti­ga­tion

India Today - - STATES - By Rahul Noronha

The ar­rest of two staffers of ex-wa­ter re­sources min­is­ter and cur­rent BJP MLA Narot­tam Mishra in the multi-crore e-ten­der­ing scam in­ves­ti­ga­tion has kept the state on the boil.

While the rul­ing Congress govern­ment claims it’s only fol­low­ing up on its poll prom­ise to launch a cru­sade against cor­rup­tion, the BJP in­sists that it is a pres­sure ploy to keep the op­po­si­tion in check.

On July 27, the state’s Eco­nomic Of­fences Wing (EOW) ar­rested Nir­mal Awasthi, for­merly a telephone op­er­a­tor at the min­is­ter’s res­i­dence, and Viren­dra Pandey, an OSD to the ex-min­is­ter. The two were charged with con­spir­ing to fix e-ten­ders of the wa­ter re­sources de­part­ment, work­ing in con­nivance with de­part­ment en­gi­neers and a pri­vate com­pany that man­aged the portal that pro­vided the on­line ser­vice.

Awasthi and Pandey are now in ju­di­cial re­mand. EOW sources say the duo, part of Mishra’s per­sonal staff, were mid­dle­men in the op­er­a­tion to fix ten­ders. Man­ish Khare, an­other mid­dle­man ar­rested in May, had ap­par­ently named them in this con­nec­tion. The case against Khare and the staffers in­volves grant­ing of a Rs 116 crore ten­der to a Gu­jarat-based firm.

Ex-min­is­ter Mishra, how­ever, al­leges that pres­sure is be­ing put on the ac­cused to name him in the scam. “The award­ing of e-ten­ders in­volved se­nior of­fi­cers… the process could not have been ma­nip­u­lated by Class III and IV employees such as these staffers,” he says.


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