Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday sacked water resources minister Mahipal Maderna, who is suspected to be involved in the mysterious disappearance of auxiliary nurse midwife Bhanwari Devi. Maderna’s removal from the cabinet came amid pressure from the Congress high command and adverse remarks of the Rajasthan high court.
Maderna, after finding himself embroiled in the kidnapping and suspected murder of Devi, 36, had dug in his heels and refused to quit.Sources in the state government said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had on Saturday asked Gehlot to remove Maderna. According to the sources, Gehlot called Maderna on Saturday and asked him to tender his resignation, but Maderna refused.
Gehlot then sent his recommendation to remove Maderna to Governor Shivraj Patil.
Patil signed on the recommendation on Sunday, the sources said. Industry minister Rajendra Pareek has been given additional charge of water resources department.
Maderna was named in the FIR in the case after order of a lower court in Jodhpur on September 25. He has denied his involvement in the case, but pressure mounted for his removal after the case was handed over to the CBI. Gehlot had recommended the CBI probe. The CBI had on October 12 filed an FIR in the case and taken over probe from Jodhpur police. The agency has so far questioned Devi’s husband Amar Chand and family members of Sohrabuddin, the main accused in the case.
Devi had gone missing on September 1 from Bilara area in Jodhpur district, where she had gone to collect money from Sohan Lal Bishnoi, a public health engineering department contractor, who had bought her Maruti Swift car.
She purportedly had a CD featuring her in an objectionable condition with Maderna.
Sources in the state Congress said home minister Shanti Dhariwal would be the next to face the heat over his handling of Gopalgarh firing in which 10 Meo Muslims were killed.