The Devendra Fadnavis-led state government, which is facing various allegations against its ministers, is staring at one more problem — parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat being accused by NCP of indulging in fraud of Rs. 2000 Cr in Tur Dal. Earlier also, the state government had to face embarrassment because both the Houses of the state assembly had to be adjourned time and again during the winter session in Nagpur as well as the budget session in Mumbai for want of ministers. Being the parliamentary affairs minister, Bapat was held responsible. He had derived ways to ensure presence of ministers concerned in the House during discussion on the issues of their departments, but in vain. He was planning to use a state-of the-art system in every minister’s cabin such that a beep sound and a light, put up inside, would alert the minister that s/he is expected to rush to the House. Bapat was set to introduce this system during the monsoon session. The Fadnavis government is facing problems due to alleged scams against its ministers being unearthed every other day, not to mention the plane delay issue involving his PS, which hit the headlines.
Retail tur dal prices shot up to Rs. 200 per kg despite the government’s steps to boost supply and check prices, aggravating consumers’ woes. Till last week, tur was available at Rs 185 per kg in the retail market. The prices of pulses have increased unabated in the last few months due to a fall in domestic output by about 2 million tonnes (mt) to 17.20 mt in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) owing to deficient monsoon and unseasonal rains. As per the data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the maximum retail price of tur, also known as arhar dal, soared to Rs. 200 per kg today, as against Rs. 85 per kg in the year-ago period. In the last five years, retail tur prices were ruling in the range of Rs. 74-85 per kg, the data showed. Urad too is retailing high at Rs. 170 per kg today though it declined from Rs. 187 per kg last week, but rates are still way higher than Rs. 98 per kg that prevailed a year earlier. Despite the government taking several measures, including imports and curbs on hoarding, to improve domestic supply, the prices of these two pulses have not fallen. The Centre has asked all state governments to take the subsidised imported pulses from MMTC and supply in their states to bring down prices.
Despite the Maharashtra government directing retailers to sell tur dal at Rs. 100, provision stores and grocery shops continued to carry out business at their own rates, charging the same Rs. 200 and thereabouts per kilo. While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered retail outlets across the state to adhere to the price-limit set by his government, tur dal was chalked beyond the 100-rupee mark across South and South Central regions of Mumbai. Shopkeepers, store owners and retail grocers claimed they were unaware of such a directive and had not received surplus supply of pulses. The CM had also asked the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies to release seized tur dal to the open market. This excess supply would then bring down the cost.
Meanwhile, Girish Bapat reiterated that Maharashtra has no shortage of tur dal. He declared that the seized dal will be given to merchants who will comply with the rate. The government’s order has been given to all shops, stores and associations. However, all these while he himself was providing raided stocks to the stockers and did fraud in crores. He always refused to comment on any questions pertaining to the quality of seized dal, the price tagged by retailers and probable action on this by his department. BJP tried giving impression that their government is clean but time and again was caught in scams.
Girish Bapat is the Cabinet Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, Food and Drugs Administration, Parliamentary Affairs in Government of Maharashtra & Member of 13th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and one of the senior Bhartiya Janata Party leaders in Vidhan Sabha. Initially, he started working with Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. In 1978, during emergency he was arrested and sent to jail. He was appointed as Secretary of BJP at Pune City in 1980. He was elected in Pune Municipal Corporation by-election in 1983 and won 3 terms. He was also appointed as Standing Committee Chairman of Pune Municipal Corporation in 1986-87. First time, he is elected as Member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1995. I hope, BJP which is promising to give clean government may take action against these scamsters.