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Union minister under Rajasthan scanner

Jaipur, March 11: The Rajasthan government today announced in the Assembly an inquiry against Union minister of state for human resources development Jaskaur Meena.

An inquiry by the state department for women and child development had found her guilty of misuse of office before she voluntarily retired from the state service to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Sawai Madhopur on a BJP ticket.

The House plunged into turmoil today when the ruling Congress members demanded her prosecution after a starred question from partyman Roopa Ram threw up the issue during question hour.

According to minister for women and child development Madho Singh Diwan, Meena as project director had sanctioned Rs 3.36-lakh assistance to the Janjati Mahila Vikas Sansthan, a non-government organisation whose president was the Union minister herself.

A three-member audit team of the department had also found the NGO guilty of financial and other irregularities.

The department had in 1999 turned down Meena’s request for voluntary retirement from her government job on the basis of its inquiry report. She was then on deputation in Sawai Madhopur as a project director with the department.

Meena, however, managed to get her parent department of education to approve her voluntary retirement.

According to Diwan’s written reply, the alleged irregularity was committed during the previous BJP regime’s tenure in Rajasthan.

But the departmental inquiry was conducted and voluntary retirement granted during Congress rule. In the heat of the moment, the BJP members failed to point this out.

The Congress members, led by Sanyam Lodha, several Independents, including Jaswant Singh Ramu and Arun Singh, and the CPM’s Amara Ram wondered aloud why no FIR was lodged to prosecute Meena as no further inquiry was needed.

Diwan said his department would inquire into the alleged irregularities within a month from today and refer the findings to Meena’s parent department of education.

He also pointed out that the Governor’s consent was essential to conduct an inquiry against a retired government official.

According to the leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria of the BJP, natural law of justice provided that Meena should be heard first. He had no objection to the state conducting an inquiry into the matter.

Diwan, referring to a report from the district collector, was heard blaming inner contradictions in the BJP for the controversy.

The BJP regime’s tourism minister, Narendra Kanwar, reportedly wanted to fight the polls from Sawai Madhopur but failed to get the party ticket.

When Speaker Paras Ram Maderna called for the next question, some members voiced their dissatisfaction with Diwan’s reply and demanded registration of a police complaint.

After the BJP members protested, chaos prevailed in the House, preventing any further questions from being taken up during question hour.

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