New Delhi, March 14 (IANS): Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani termed allegations levelled against her by the Congress of violating the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Fund (MPLAD) rules as a self-goal and accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of committing a financial fraud in his constituency Amethi.
"It is a self-goal by the Congress. Rahul Gandhi has himself committed MPLAD fraud in Amethi," Smriti Irani told IANS.
Citing a Comptroller and Accountant General (CAG) report, the Congress had claimed Irani had awarded the MPLAD work to an NGO without inviting tenders, resulting in irregular payment of Rs 5.93 crore and fraudulent payment of Rs 85.53 lakh to the NGO.
The Congress circulated a letter signed by Irani on February 11 asking the District Planning Officer (DPO) of Anand, Gujarat, to allocate Rs 30 lakh for construction of a community centre in village Maghrol under the Adarsh Gram Yojana.
Countering the allegation, Irani said the CAG did not mention in the report her involvement and only mentioned her name once that too stating just recommendation of works. The letter recommending the work was issued by the MP, but it is for the district administration to work out the details.
On the Congress charge that her PA called the district officer, she said the call had been cited without any substantial proof and the officers know the procedures well and would not entertain a phone call.
The work is checked by the planning officer to decide if it falls in the MPLAD's ambit. If it is found to be outside the rules, the officials don't sanction the amount.
On a letter of the collector being circulated by the Congress, the officer is on record that it had nothing to do with the MP, she said.
The CAG has reported failure of the district administration and nowhere does it allege that the MP was involved in the entire process.
She launched a counter-offensive and pointed out widespread irregularities in the Congress President's MPLAD funds use in Amethi. These irregularities have also been reported by the local media claiming that even roads already constructed were listed as fresh work.