Less than seven months after being voted to power, the Bharatiya Janata Party led government is facing a major image crisis with a series of charges being levelled against its cabinet ministers coupled with the public outburst by individual leaders exposing the internal unrest within the party. The biggest challenge for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who promised to provide a corruption free and transparent government is to live up to that promise by taking a tough stand against those proven guilty.
The list of BJP ministers who have courted controversy in the short tenure of this government is a long one. Minister for Women and Child Development Pankaja Munde, is facing charges of corruption in awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore without electronic tendering, which is supposed to be far more transparent.
Another cabinet colleague- Minister for Education, Vinod Tawde is also embroiled in a controversy related to his engineering degree from Dnyaneshwar University in Pune- which was never recognised by the government. Tawde is now being dubbed by his opponents as a “Class 12 pass mantri”. Minister for Energy, Chandrashekar Bawankule too had stoked a controversy for making a telephone call to an official to set private sand miners free. Earlier, Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation Babanrao Lonikar invited criticism for providing conflicting information about his educational qualifications in his affidavit filed during elections last year. While Munde, Tawde, Bawankule and Lonikar have repeatedly said they have not done anything wrong, many within the party have begun to ask the question, “Can there be smoke without fire?”
Three-term MLA, Raj Purohit’s outburst in a private conversation taped in a video sting operation was a pointer to the state of affairs in the party. Purohit slammed everyone starting from Prime minister, Narendra Modi to the RSS to indicate how those with “money power “were able to influence decision making in the party. Party insiders concede that Purohit’s statements (if true) show what individuals think of the top leaders when their ambitions are not fulfilled. At a time when the Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating corruption charges against senior NCP leaders, Chhagan Bhujbal, Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare, the spotlight is now bound to be on BJP ministers.