Minister of state for transport Gulabrao Deokar got a breather on Tuesday after the apex court stayed the Bombay high court’s decision to cancel the bail granted to him by the session’s court in the 1997 Jalgaon housing scam.
Deokar submitted his resignation to his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state party president Madhukar Pichad on Tuesday, but the NCP seems to be sitting on the letter. Pichad had forwarded the letter to deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, but it may not have reached the chief minister yet. “So far, the NCP has not forwarded the resignation tendered by Deokar to me,” chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told HT on Tuesday.
NCP’s senior leaders said they had decided to wait and watch and not sacrifice Deokar unless there was no alternative. “We asked for the resignation yesterday because the high court had cancelled his bail, which meant he would have been arrested. One cannot continue to be a minister after he is put in custody,” said a senior party functionary.
NCP is reluctant to take action against Deokar, as he is the party’s face in North Maharashtra, a region where NCP has been trying to strengthen its base. Pawar has been batting for Deokar as he can challenge Sena legislator Suresh Jain’s dominion in Jalgaon. In the apex court, Deokar’s counsel had argued that high court had cancelled only Deokar’s bail, when another 19 people — all former municipal councillors — got bail from the sessions court.
Deokar has been accused of corruption in the Jalgaon housing scam. The scam concerns a project to construct around 11,000 low cost homes for the poor. The project never took off.