December 14, 2016 3:11:40 am
THE state legislative Assembly and Council on Tuesday witnessed high drama with the Opposition demanding the resignation of Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Minister Mahadev Jankar over poll-related offences filed against him.
The Congress and NCP said the minister had no right to continue in office till the probe in the matter was over. Business in both the Houses were stalled due to repeated disruptions and adjournments.
Jankar, who represents the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) — a BJP ally — had allegedly threatened a returning officer to reject the nomination of Congress candidate Jasomal Motwani for the Wadsa Desaigang Municipal Council poll in Gadchiroli district.
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After receiving a sting video of the conversation between the minister and returning officer, the EC issued a notice to the minister seeking explanation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defended Jankar, saying, “A non-cognisable offence has been registered against Jankar. The minister has replied to the EC’s notice and also admitted that he did speak to the election officials.”
Since, the matter is still under investigation, it would be unfair to seek his resignation, he added.
On the question of ethics raised by former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, former finance minister Jayant Patil, former speaker Dilip Walse-Patil in the Lower House, Fadnavis said, “My government is not covering anything that is wrong. But let the report come.”
Hitting back at the Opposition, the CM said that when despite serious warrant issued against former NCP minister Gulabrao Deokar and Supreme Court’s refusal to stay the same, the then Prithviraj Chavan government did not take any action.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, came out in support of the BJP in both the Houses and voiced its reservations against the demand for Jankar’s resignation.
In the Upper House, Sena member Neelam Gorhe said, “First of all Congress-NCP has no right to raise the issue which is under the election commission’s jurisdiction. The matter related to polls comes under election commission which is an independent authority.”
Both Chavan and Patil said, “Jankar’s act showed he had misused the ministerial powers to influence poll process. This was highly inappropriate. Fadnavis should drop him until the final report comes out. If he is proved not guilty, he could be re-inducted in the cabinet.”
Speaker Haribhau Bagde said, “I will give the ruling only after studying all the similar instances in the past.”
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