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Devendra Fadnavis says allegations against housing minister Prakash Mehta are 'politically motivated'

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said housing minister Prakash Mehta cannot be accused of corruption merely on the basis of a file noting made by him and that the allegations being made against the senior BJP leader are "politically motivated".

Fadnavis' remarks in the Legislative Council came days after he ordered an inquiry against the minister over alleged violation of norms in a slum redevelopment project.

Mehta had allegedly allowed unauthorised transfer of extra building rights in a slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) project in south Mumbai, originally granted to slum dwellers, to project affected people (PAPs), apparently to favour a developer.

File image of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

File image of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

He had wrongly mentioned on the file that he had kept the CM in the loop about the transfer, which was denied by Fadnavis.

The Congress and the NCP have raised the pitch in the state legislature seeking removal of Mehta as a minister.

"As far as allegations against Prakash Mehta are concerned, how can he be accused of corruption when no decision was taken place in the first place (on the basis of the file)?"

"Mehta had merely given his remarks on the file, over which no further action was taken. If the Opposition is still asking for his resignation, then these charges are politically motivated," Fadnavis told the Legislative Council.

The issue was raised by Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde (NCP).

The chief minister, his Cabinet colleagues and members of the treasury benches took part in the proceedings of the Upper House, a day after MLCs of the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena staged a walkout in an unprecedented development.

They had walked out in the Council accusing the Opposition of "high handedness" and against their "act of flouting rules, creating a ruckus and disrupting the proceedings".

The proceedings began on Thursday after Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar laid down certain norms, regarding the conduct of business.

Fadnavis said he has ordered an inquiry against Mehta as his is a transparent government.

"Remember you (the Opposition) did not even inquire into charges against your ministers when we (as Opposition members then) gave you ample proofs of wrongdoings against them," Fadnavis said.

If found guilty, appropriate action will be taken against the minister, he added.

As the proceedings began, Munde said the Opposition wanted the government to act on two demands, failing which, they would not allow the Upper House to function.

"One demand is (about) corrupt practices of (IAS officer and MSRDC chief) Radheshyam Mopalwar. Despite being involved in a large-scale corruption, he is involved in the CM's pet (Mumbai-Nagpur expressway) project. Unless he is suspended and a serious inquiry is conducted against him, we will not allow functioning of the House," Munde said.

He said since there are allegations of a "massive corruption" against the housing minister, he cannot be allowed to hold office. "The chief minister should immediately ask him to resign and order a probe against him," he added.

Responding to Munde and Congress member Sharad Ranpise, who made a similar demand, Fadnavis said Mopalwar will cease to hold the position of MSRDC chief, pending an inquiry against him.

"Mopalwar has been temporarily asked to step down. An inquiry will be conducted against him within a month. If he is found guilty, we will not hesitate in even dismissing him," Fadnavis said.

On Fadnavis' contention that Mehta had merely given his remarks on the file which were not acted upon, Munde said, "This is like a robber going to a bank to loot it, but failing to commit the act as the alarm goes off".

Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 21:59 PM

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