Maharashtra Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole and his department secretary, Dinesh Waghmare have come under the limelight for allegedly misusing the position to secure a scholarship for their wards, reported India Today.
Minister Badole’s daughter, Shruti Badole was granted scholarship to pursue a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the Manchester University, UK.
The son of the department secretary, Antariksh Waghmare who wishes to do a two-year Master of Science course in Information System from the University of Pennsylvania in the US has also been awarded a scholarship.
As a part of the scholarship, the state will fund the students’ return economy fare, tuition fee, and an annual stipend of $14,000 (nearly Rs 9 lakh), or £9,000 (more than Rs 7.5 lakh) in case of admission in the UK.
The scholarship includes an additional fund of $1,375 (around Rs 88,000), or £1,000 (around Rs 83,000) for the UK for other academic expenses
Incidentally, the social justice and special assistance department administer the scholarships instituted in 2003 for post-graduate and PhD courses. The point of contention has arisen because the said scholarship is meant for ST students whose parents’ income is less than Rs 6 lakh per year.
Fingers are now being pointed at the fact that Badole’s daughter and the secretary’s son have been given the scholarship by the same ministry. The cabinet minister has reportedly said that his daughter has an excellent educational record and has been elected as per merit.
Dinesh Waghmare has also defended his son and the minister’s daughter saying that they had kept away from the entire process of selection knowing that their ward was applying for the scholarship. The chief minister had constituted a new committee this year under the chief secretary’s chairmanship.
He also added that income criteria for grant of the scholarship did not apply to those students who had secured admission in top 100 universities across the world. This was done by an amendment by the state cabinet in 2013.
Opposition Congress has alleged that the incident is a clear case of misusing ministerial power and has demanded an inquiry. This is not the first time that a minister in Devendra Fadnavis government has faced charges of abusing their position.
The Logical Indian community hopes that a thorough probe is carried out which would enable the truth to transpire and would let everyone know if nepotism played a role in the sanction of the grant. Also, it is important to be checked that these benefits which are intended to ameliorate the conditions of the needy are not being misused.