NEW DELHI: Even as Congress accused Smriti Irani of making “illegal” payments from her constituency development fund in Gujarat, the Union textiles minister termed the allegations levelled against her by Congress of violating the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Fund (MPLAD) rules ‘a self-goal,’ and accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of committing a financial fraud in his constituency Amethi.

Basing their allegations on the report of the CAG on the general and social sector for 2017, Congress spokespersons Randeep Surjewala and Shaktisinh Gohil demanded that the government lodge an FIR against Irani and sack her from the ministry.

In reaction to the Congress allegations, Irani said, “It is a self-goal by Congress. Rahul has himself committed MPLAD fraud in Amethi.”

The CAG report has charged Irani with injudicious awarding of works under MPLADS to an NGO without inviting tenders, which resulted in irregular payment of Rs 5.93 crore, including fraudulent payment of Rs 84.53 lakh to the NGO, claimed the Congress. The CAG had recommended to Gujarat government that all the works by the NGO should be investigated.

Countering the allegation, Irani said the CAG did not mention in the report her involvement and only mentioned her name once that too stating just recommendation of works. The letter recommending the work was issued by the MP, but it is for the district administration to work out the details.

Surjewala in a press conference on Thursday said, “This is a clear-cut case of misuse of office and fraud vis-a-vis public money and PM Narendra Modi should immediately sack Irani and order for initiating criminal proceedings against her,” he added.

The Union textile minister selected Anand district as nodal district for implementation of works under the MPLAD scheme.

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