Mumbai, (The Hindu): A day after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis removed IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar from his post, the State government found itself cornered once again on Friday, after fresh allegations emerged against Housing Minister Prakash Mehta.
The Opposition has been demanding that Mr. Mehta step down. Mr. Mehta, however, put the ball in the Chief Minister’s court, saying, “I will resign from my post if the CM asks me to.” He said Mr. Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry into the allegations against him. He ruled out sabotage from members his own party, and said the Opposition was making false claims to tarnish his image.
On Friday, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil levelled new allegations against Mr. Mehta. “A company, in which the minister, was a director redeveloped two chawls. But instead of providing flats to the original tenants, the flats have been given to the minister’s son,” Mr. Vikhe-Patil said.
Responding to the allegations in a statement in Assembly in the evening, Mr. Mehta said, “My son is a legal tenant and hence, him possessing a flat [in the chawl] is nothing illegal,” he said. He also said that he had resigned from the company which carried out the redevelopment work 10 days prior to becoming the Housing Minister.
Replying to another allegation of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) having transferred a plot to a private developer, Mr. Mehta said that no such transfer has taken place.
The Minister is also embroiled in a controversy related to a redevelopment project at M.P. Mill compound in Tardeo, where he allegedly tried to tweak rules to ensure hundreds of crores of profit to the redeveloper.
A noting on the project file, which said the Chief Minister had been informed of the decision, put the minister in further trouble. Three days ago, the minister had to accept in the Assembly that Mr. Fadnavis had not been informed of the decision. Since then, the Opposition has been seeking his removal from the Cabinet.
Doubt over CM’s claim
Mr. Fadnavis, while announcing an inquiry into the allegations, had said no scam actually took place, since he had cancelled the permission. However, new documents that have emerged raise questions about the CM’s claim. The letters show that the project had been given permission, and was stayed only after the scam was exposed.
“ I do not know about the letter that is being circulated. One needs to verify it before commenting on it,” said Mr. Mehta.
According to BJP sources, State in-charge Saroj Pandey will visit Mumbai on Saturday, where the allegations against Mr. Mehta are likely to be discussed.
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