What made Shiv Sena minister Sanjay Rathod resign?
Maharashtra forest minister Sanjay Rathod resigned on Sunday after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mounted pressure on the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government calling for his sacking. Rathod, a Shiv Sena leader, was linked to the death by suicide of a 23-year-old woman in Pune. “I have given my resignation to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. The way opposition is warning that they won’t allow the assembly session to function, I have distanced myself from it. I want a fair probe in the case,” Rathod said after submitting his resignation.
The BJP had launched a state-wide agitation, demanding Rathod’s ouster from the state cabinet. Rathod has repeatedly denied any involvement in the suicide case.
Rathod, 50, is a four-time Shiv Sena legislator from Digras assembly constituency in the state’s Yavatmal district. In the previous Devendra Fandnavis-led government, when the Shiv Sena was in an alliance with the BJP, Rathod served as minister of state for revenue for five years.
Alleged link to woman’s suicide case
The woman, an aspiring model and a resident of Parli Vaijanath in Beed district, died after falling from the balcony of an apartment in Pune’s Hadapsar area on February 8. Soon after her death, several photos and audio clips surfaced allegedly linking Rathod to her. Rathod did not make any public appearances for two weeks after her death. The Pune Police registered a case of accidental death and are treating the case as that of suicide. The woman’s family has not filed any complaint so far with the police.
BJP’s state-wide agitation
After the videos and photos surfaced, the BJP alleged that the Pune Police was under pressure by the state government and was not investigating the case thoroughly. The BJP’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil on Saturday announced that the party legislators will not allow the functioning of the assembly’s budget session. “If Rathod is not asked to resign before Monday and if Thackeray does not come clear on this case, we will not let the legislature function,” Patil said in a press conference.
BJP leader Chitra Wagh on Saturday also questioned chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s silence on the issue adding that the Maharashtra government was shielding Rathod. “Despite substantial proof against him [Rathod], no action has been taken against him. In fact, the police have not even registered a first information report in this case. There are 45 missed calls in Rathod’s name on the victim’s phone,” Wagh said.