Demanding the resignation of Maharashtra Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, who is facing charges of having favoured a builder in a slum redevelopment project, the Congress Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the case, arguing that no action against the minister would mean he has “blessings at the highest levels.” Addressing a press conference, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan charged that the housing minister had “illegally approved transfer of slum dwellers’ building rights to a major builder/developer in a Slum Redevelopment Project in South Mumbai…. While sanctioning the proposal, the minister used the name of the chief minister and overruled specific objections by his secretary.”
“The chief minister has denied his involvement and has ordered an inquiry against the minister,” Chavan said. He said the CM has already accepted the “prime facie wrongdoing of the minister”.
“That is why he has launched an inquiry against the minister….the question is did the minister actually consult the chief minister and get his prior approval or he just took it for granted that he will not do anything and boldly wrote on the file that he had apprised the chief minister…it is the word of the chief minister against the word of the housing minister,” he said.
“Was a prior verbal sanction given by the CM? Can a minister brazenly use the CM’s name in writing in an official file without actually consulting him?” he asked. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, had come to power in 2014 by promising a corruption-free rule and argued “time has come to put his foot down and find out who is lying.”
“Why is the CM not sacking Prakash Mehta? It is known to everyone that Mehta is a leader of the Gujarati community. He is the only Gujarati minister in Maharashtra….has he got the blessings of someone big somewhere else that he manages to continue as the minister,” he asked.
He said the CM must drop Mehta from the cabinet till the inquiry is completed. “The inquiry must be a judicial inquiry conducted by a Judge of the High Court under the Commission of Inquiry Act. All the 137 files cleared by the CEO (SRA) two weeks prior to his retirement must be reviewed. All the current projects of the builder in question…. must be investigated,” he said.