Shiv Sena Minister Subhash Desai, accused of graft by the Opposition, offered to resign on Saturday, but Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis turned down his request.
The 75-year-old Sena veteran, who holds the industries portfolio, met CM Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday.
“I met the chief minister at ‘Varsha’ (the CM’s official residence) with my resignation letter and requested him to relieve me until I am proved innocent. However, the chief minister refused to accept my resignation and said I need not resign,” Desai told PTI.
“The chief minister said let there be an independent inquiry and until the result is out for everyone to see, I should continue performing my duty,” Desai added.
“I met Uddhavji (Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray) last evening and apprised him of my decision to resign. Uddhavji then spoke to the chief minister and both of them jointly decided that my resignation would not be accepted,” he explained.
The development comes a day after Fadnavis announced a probe by Lokayukta against Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, who has been accused by the opposition of impropriety in a slum redevelopment project in south Mumbai.
The opposition has accused Desai of violating norms while allegedly denotifying lands acquired by state-run MIDC in Nashik.
On Friday, Fadnavis had said the government will request the Lokayukta to consider Desai’s case and if that does not work out, an independent probe would be conducted.
Desai, on his part, said that he would to co-operate with whatever inquiry was instituted.
Sena continues to back their minister.
“It is dangerous that they (the opposition parties) are not ashamed of what they have done (in the past). Levelling baseless allegations and asking for resignations will dent the image of the state…The chief minister has promised a fair probe. We hope the truth comes out soon. The party stands firmly behind Desai,” Thackeray said.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde of the NCP, said that Fadnavis discreetly saved Prakash Mehta by not accepting Desai’s resignation.
“The ministers accused of corruption have no moral right to keep occupying their chairs. Unless they are removed, a fair probe cannot happen. Even if the CM is backing them, we will continue our fight against the corrupt ministers and the government,” Munde said.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant accused Fadnavis of being a “political opportunist”, who had accepted BJP minister Eknath Khadse’s resignation last year but refused to accept Desai’s resignation.
Khadse was also accused of corruption in connection with a land deal in Pune.
(With inputs from PTI)