Maharashtra Housing Minister Prakash Mehta and Industries Minister Subhash Desai, battling charges of corruption levelled by the Opposition, offered to resign on Saturday. Chief Minsiter Devendra Fadnavis, however, turned down the offer.
Desai met the CM on Saturday morning, a day after Fadnavis announced in the state assembly that the Lokayukta will probe the corruption charges against Mehta and an independent probe would be held against Desai. Late Friday night, Mehta met Fadnavis and offered to resign. Mehta called on the chief minister after he ordered the investigation into graft charges in at least three housing projects for alleged violation of norms and keeping the CM in the dark about the decisions. Mehta was told since the probe had been ordered, let the report come out.
Desai said, “I felt I should not be a minister when an inquiry had been initiated. For this reason I met the CM and offered my resignation. He has, however, refused to accept the resignation and asked me to continue. I will fully cooperate in the inquiry and accept its findings.”
Desai has been accused by the Opposition of denotifying 31,000 acres of land to provide financial benefit to private developers.Desai in his defence had claimed while the land was denotified it was done following laiddown rules and not to benefit any individual in particular.
“Several pieces of land are scattered and fragmented in such a manner industries won’t be interested in purchasing them. We subsequently formulated a policy for de-notification of such pieces of land,” Desai had told the legislative assembly in his defence. The decision that Desai would offer to submit his resignation was made after the Industries Minister met up with party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Desai at 75 is one of the oldest of the five Sena cabinet ministers in the Fadnavis government. He has been over the past few days been suggesting he would want to step down and work for building the party in the state. “The party fully backs and supports Subhash Desai. It does not behoove Maharashtra’s policy to demand resignations simply based on unproven allegations. Desai had, however, offered his resignation to me and subsequently the CM, which was not accepted by the CM,” Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said.