The Heat Is on
An e-tendering scam, an ex-minister from the BJP, intrigue follows investigation
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.
NEW SHERIFF CM Kamal Nath