MUMBAI: Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh today termed as "height of nepotism" a state agency's directive to developers to open accounts only with a particular branch of private bank, where the wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis work.
The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), headed by Fadnavis, had issued an order on February 10, directing developers to submit details of their bank accounts with the Axis Bank's Worli branch in South Mumbai for payment of rent to eligible slum dwellers on or before February 15, 2016.
"SRA in Mumbai headed by CM of Maharashtra has officially asked all SRA developers to open accounts only in Worli branch of Axis Bank," Singh tweeted.
"Do you know why? Mrs Fadnavis is the Vice-President of Axis Bank! A windfall for the Axis Bank a private Bank. Height of Nepotism," he said.
The former Madhya Pardesh Chief Minister's remarks came despite Fadnavis' recent clarification that no rules had been violated and the decision had no connection with his wife being an officer at the bank. The SRA order had said penalties up to Rs 5 lakh would be imposed on developers if they failed to submit the details to the private lender's branch.
Congress had termed as "wrong" the condition to open accounts only with a particular bank. "The government must rethink the decision. Had the government been transparent, it would have sought applications from different banks and the eligible bank could have been appointed. Chief Minister must answer," MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant had said.
A clarification issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) had said the previous Congress-led government itself had given permission to SRA to choose one among Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank for the task. "Axis Bank gave us a model which will be beneficial to the government and SRA will not have to pay anything for it. These are zero balance accounts and slum-dwellers will benefit from them," the CMO had said.
It said the Chief Minister's wife, Amruta, is an officer with Axis Bank's corporate section and works at Lower Parel branch of the lender in Central Mumbai.
"She handles back office and has no target to achieve. A defamation suit will be filed against those who are making such baseless allegations," it had said.