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BJP steps up demand for Sanjay Rathod’s resignation

'We will not allow a smooth session unless Rathod is removed from the Cabinet, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil said
Last Updated : 27 February 2021, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 27 February 2021, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 27 February 2021, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 27 February 2021, 10:55 IST

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Ahead of the crucial Budget Session of Maharashtra Legislature, the opposition BJP on Saturday mounted pressure on the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government demanding resignation of state forest minister Sanjay Rathod.

The name of 49-year-old Rathod, a Shiv Sena leader and four-time MLA from the Banjara community hailing from the Vidarbha region, has cropped up after the death of social media star Pooja Chavan in Pune.

Pooja (22), also from Banjara community, hailed Parli Vaijanath from Beed district of Marathwada region, was active in social and community work.

Pooja died after falling from the balcony of an apartment in Pune’s Hadapsar area. The police has registered an accidental death report (ADR) and is carrying out investigations.

On Saturday, the women’s wing of state BJP held protests in 100-odd places across Maharashtra demanding resignation and arrest of Rathod.

“We will not allow a smooth session unless Rathod is removed from the Cabinet,” state BJP president and former revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said.

It may be recalled that days after the death of Pooja, leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis had shot off a letter to state’s director general of police Hemant Nagrale and submitted 12 audio clips vis-a-vis the incident and called for a probe.

Thackeray on his part had assured a probe. However, Rathod continued as a minister and a few days ago staged a massive show of strength at Poharadevi Temple in Washim district – an incident that saw all norms and protocols related to Covid-19 going for a toss.

“If the probe is complete, let the government say that Rathod is innocent,” Patil said.

The campaign against Rathod is being spearheaded by state BJP’s women’s wing vice president Chitra Wagh.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered a case against Wagh’s husband Kishore Wagh in a case of assets disproportionate to known sources of income. Earlier in 2016, the Mumbai Unit of ACB had arrested Kishor Wagh. During that time, Chitra Wagh was the state women’s wing chief of NCP. She switched over to BJP ahead of 2019 Vidhan Sabha polls.

Patil, however, said: “It is not proper to join the two cases....the two cases are different...here she is seeking justice for Pooja Chavan’s family and you are trying to put pressure by the old case....let that case be investigated (by ACB) irrespective of the outcome.”

Patil also said that the National Commission for Women has sought a report in the Pooja Chavan case and wanted to know whether the state has sent its report.

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Published 27 February 2021, 10:47 IST

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