Ajit Pawar Resigns Maharashtra Cabinet Following Scam Allegations
Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar Tuesday resigned from the cabinet following allegations of involvement in an irrigation scam when he was water resources minister and said he was prepared for a CBI probe into the case.
His Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), however, said it would remain in the coalition government with the Congress in the state, and the United Progressive Alliance government in Delhi.
The 53-year-old NCP strongman said he had sent his resignation to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who will send it to the governor.
However, Pawar, who held the plum finance and energy portfolios as the deputy chief minister, said he would remain the NCP Legislature Party leader until his party and legislators desired. He declared that he would not join the government as a minister until his name was “cleared” from the alleged irregularities.
Pawar added that he has recommended his party and ministerial colleagues Jayant Patil for the post of finance minister and Rajesh Tope as energy minister.
“People are jealous of the rise of the NCP,” Pawar asserted, but did not elaborate.
He demanded that a White Paper be issued on the entire gamut of irrigation projects in the state, how many were pending, how much funds have gone into them and their current status.
Last July, Chavan had assured the state legislature that a White Paper would be brought on the irrigation scenario in the state, which had angered the NCP. The two parties are engaged in a love-hate relationship over the past 12 years when they have been sharing power in the state.
Meanwhile, Ajit Pawar’s uncle, NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has stated that the NCP would not “destabilize” the Democratic Front government in the state.
Senior NCP leader and union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel also made it clear in New Delhi that the NCP would not walk out of the state government in the wake of Ajit Pawar’s resignation.
They were referring to the clamour among a section of party legislators and councillors who want the NCP to walk out of the alliance and give outside support to the Congress in Maharashtra.
According to reports in some sections of the media, Ajit Pawar had allegedly approved 38 irrigation projects worth over Rs.20,000 crore when he was the water resources minister for a decade between 1999-2009, before he became the deputy chief minister.
He had been accused of approving these projects without taking the relevant clearance of various government departments and the tenders were allegedly approved at inflated rates. Ajit Pawar has rejected all allegations.
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