Maharashtra irrigation scam whistle-blower joins AAP

Nashik, Dec 1 : The Aam Aadmi Party got a boost in Maharashtra with Vijay Pandhare, former bureaucrat and whistle-blower in the multi-billion rupees irrigation scam, joining the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit Sunday.

Pandhare, an acknowledged expert in irrigation, retired from government service Saturday.

Asked of his plunge into politics, the soft-spoken and mild-mannered Pandhare told IANS: "I had been toying with the idea since nearly a year and took a final decision after my retirement."

He said he would strive to create awareness about various issues and problems confronting the masses, and suggest ways and means to improve government and governance for the betterment of citizens.

As for campaigning or contesting in the forthcoming elections, Pandhare guardedly said he would make a decision in due course.

After a farewell party by colleagues Saturday, Pandhare told local reporters that during his three-decade career as a bureaucrat, he had witnessed both the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party indulging in corrupt activities.

Last year, Pandhare wrote letters to the state government which led to the embarrassing resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, whom he had indirectly indicted in the over Rs.20,000-crore irrigation scam. Pawar held the state irrigation portfolio between 1999-2009.

In September last year, following an uproar over the irrigation scam expose, Pandhare resigned from the government, but stayed on after intervention by top state officials.

As a precautionary measure, Pandhare was accorded police security in view of threat perceptions.

Pandhare joined the state government in 1980 as a junior engineer and later cleared the Maharashtra Public Service Commission examinations to join the Irrigation Department as executive engineer.

Later in 2011, he came to Nashik as member, Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute, and head of the Maharashtra Engineering Training Institute, where he served till his retirement Saturday.

--IANS (Posted on 01-12-2013)

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