Maharashtra governor accepts state forest minister Sanjay Rathod’s resignation
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday accepted Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Rathod’s resignation as the state’s forest minister, hours after it was sent to him by the government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party in the state, was putting pressure on the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)-led government to send Rathod’s resignation to the governor.
Rathod, whose name had emerged in connection with the death of a 23-year old woman, tendered his resignation to chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on February 28. The woman from Parli town in Maharashtra’s Beed district apparently jumped off a building in Pune on February 8. A case of accidental death was registered with the Wanawadi police station in Pune.
Few days after the woman’s death, audio and video clips along with photographs went viral on social media which purportedly linked her with Rathod. The BJP accused the Shiv Sena leader of being involved in the woman’s death and demanded an investigation into the case.
Following Rathod’s resignation last week as a cabinet minister, Leader of Opposition (LoP) and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on February 28 that no first information report or FIR had been registered against him despite the availability of evidence and went on to blame ‘higher-ups for shielding him’. On the other hand, the BJP’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil said that Rathod’s resignation was a result of the constant pressure put by the people of Maharashtra and the BJP. Patil added that he was glad that CM Thackeray displayed courage in removing Rathod as a minister.
Rathod, a four-time legislator from the Digras assembly constituency in Yavatmal district, has denied all charges and demanded a fair investigation. The 49-year-old leader added that the opposition defamed him and all this was being done to destroy his political career.
Rathod is the second minister in the MVA government whose name has surfaced in a criminal case. Earlier, state minister of social justice and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dhananjay Munde had been accused by a 38-year-old woman of rape, who later withdrew her complaint.