When Devendra Fadnavis took over as Chief Minister on October 31, 2014, most political observers said he was not only a very young face for the position and also that he was a leader with the cleanest slate to become Chief Minister. By and large, in the last three years Fadnavis has maintained that image of being “Mr Clean”, but the last whole week has been very bad for the Chief Minister, as allegations of multiple scams have emerged in the State Assembly. The Chief Minister finally had to announce that senior IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar is being removed from the position of deputy head of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) with immediate effect.
There are two aspects to what is unfolding in the state capital right now. The first aspect is how slowly as time passes, many alleged scams happening within the BJP-Shiv Sena government are getting unearthed demolishing the claim of BJP leaders in Mumbai and Delhi that there is no corruption in the BJP-ruled states. And the second aspect is that of how these things are reaching crores of people via social media even as conventional media is not reflecting the information about the scams very effectively.
An audio clip in which Radheshyam Mopalwar allegedly tells a middleman to pay crores of rupees of bribe has now gone super viral on social media and has actually been spreading among farmers who were opposing land acquisition undertaken by Mopalwar and his team for the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Highway. This land acquisition is being met with tremendous opposition in several districts and the allegations of corruption in the acquisition and compensation process will put Devendra Fadnavis now on the defensive for the first time in a major way.
Just before the Mopalwar controversy broke in the State Assembly and caused an uproar, Maharashtra’s Housing Minister Prakash Mehta faced serious allegations of improper (suspicious) land allotment in Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRA) project in Mumbai which again amounts to run into a multi-crore scam.
The allegations are very serious and the Chief Minister is now in an awkward position trying to defend Mehta and his improprieties. Over a year ago Devendra Fadnavis was quick to remove senior minister Eknath Khadse from his Cabinet when allegations of corruption were levelled.
Now the Opposition asks despite it being a similar case to Khadse, why Mehta is being protected? Unless Fadnavis has some concrete answers to that he will face credibility loss slowly but surely.
WORRY FOR BJP
Prime Minister Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah have said on several occasions that one of the biggest achievements of their regime is that there has been no corruption scam, but in Maharashtra, as BJP reaches its state government’s third anniversary, several big allegations of scams are coming to the fore. This could be a big worry for the BJP.
- ROHIT CHANDAVARKAR