Fadnavis defends ministers targetted by Opposition

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday stoutly defended some of his cabinet colleagues accused of corruption by the opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party.

Responding to a discussion in the assembly, Fadnavis also said that former Minister Eknath Khase, who resigned on June 4 following various allegations, had been given a “clean chit” in his aide’s bribery case.

He pointed out that Khadse has not been named in the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s chargesheet filed against Gajanan Patil, who was alleged to be the former minister’s personal aide.

Patil was caught by the ACB on May 14 for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs.30 crore from Ramesh Jadhav, a social entrepreneur from Mumbai for clearing a land proposal.

On Khadse’s alleged links with the absconding mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Fadnavis said that after he met a Vadodara-based “ethical hacker” Manish Bhangale on the issue, he ordered a Crime Branch inquiry.

Similarly, Fadnavis said not a single criminal charge has been lodged against Minister of State Jaykumar Rawal.

He also came to the rescue of Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar, who was allegedly close to a company listed as a willful defaulter by Bank of Maharashtra.

The minister had acted as a guarantor on a loan which was declared NPA and later as a “fraud account” with outstandings of Rs 49 crore to Bank Of Maharashtra and Union Bank Of India.

After discovering tampering with mortgage deed papers, the banks lodged a cheating case and the Central Bureau of Investigations filed a chargesheet in the matter.

“The Opposition targeted 20 ministers just before our government completed 20 months in office,” Fadnavis said, referring to the Congress-NCP’s allegations against 20 of his colleagues on Thursday.

Later, former Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan told media persons that when Khadse was asked to resign after the allegations, then why should there be different yardsticks for the other ministers.

NCP legislator Jayant Patil said Fadnavis has not yet cleared Khadse in the MIDC landscam of Pune, and accused the government of shying away from a debate on the tainted ministers.



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