August 3, 2021 2:55:33 am
MORE THAN five months after he resigned as a state minister in the wake of allegations linking him to the Pooja Chavan suicide case, there is a voice growing within the Shiv Sena in favour of Sanjay Rathod’s rehabilitation stating that there is no complaint from the woman’s family and the police had found no foul play.
On July 31, Girish Vyas, the deputy city chief of the party’s Yavatmal unit, reached Mumbai on a cycle from the cotton city to press for Rathod’s reinduction as a minister in the state cabinet. He had left Yavatmal on a cycle on July 22.
“I came here to submit a memorandum to Sena chief and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray with a demand to induct Rathod to the cabinet. It is to ensure that the development in Yavatmal does not stop,” Vyas said, adding that many other party activists felt the same.
A four-time Shiv Sena MLA from Digras in Yavatmal district, Rathod had resigned as the state forest minister on February 28 after he came under the scanner for the death of 22-year-old Chavan, a resident of Parli Vaijanath in Beed district, who died allegedly after falling from the balcony of a flat in Pune’s Hadapsar area on February 8.
Pune Police investigating the suicide case has recently found the recordings of “several calls” between her and a man, purported to be Rathod, in the “four-five days” before her death. Earlier, several photos and audio clips had surfaced allegedly linking Rathod to her suicide.
Accusing the BJP of levelling false allegations against Rathod in the suicide case, Vyas said, “There is no complaint from the (Chavan’s) family. Also, there has been no action by the police in the past five months. So, he should be inducted into the cabinet.”
When asked about Vyas’s demand, Rathod said Monday it showed that the activist’s love for him. “He is Shiv Sainik and cycled to Mumbai out of love for me. I resigned as minister in the wake of allegations. The police will probe into it and submit a report to the CM, who will then decide about my future,” Rathod told The Indian Express.
A senior Sena leader said Rathod belongs to the Banjara community and is known as the party’s pillar in the Vidarbha region. “He has a huge following in the Banjara community, which has stood behind him. So, this cannot be ignored and he will have to be rehabilitated,” the leader said. A final decision about Rathod, he added, will be taken by Thackeray.
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