Why did Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis refuse to accept resignations of Industries Minister Subhash Desai and Housing Minister Prakash Mehta?
Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at his official residence yesterday and submitted his resignation following allegations of corruption. Soon after, Housing Minister Prakash Mehta too met Fadnavis and submitted his resignation. Mehta also faces allegations of favoring a developer and misusing his office. Surprisingly, Fadnavis did not accept their resignations despite repeated demands by the opposition that both of them should resign.
Political circles in Mumbai are abuzz with talks that by refusing to accept Desai's resignation, the CM was actually shielding Mehta as he would have been morally compelled to accept Mehta's resignation too.
Desai faces allegations that a plot of land in Nashik district was denotified by MIDC on his orders for the benefit of a developer. Desai has already explained that the said plot of land has been returned to the original owner by the MIDC. After MIDC returns the plot to the original owner, it has nothing to do with any decisions in case the original owner approaches a developer.
In the case of Mehta, however, the charges are far more serious. Mehta wrote on MP Mills compound file that 'Chief Minister has been apprised' and SD corporation should be allowed to go ahead with a scheme for Project Affected Persons. In reality, however, Mehta has admitted that this file was never taken to the CM for discussion. Mehta was clearly using the CM's name to favour the developer, said opposition while demanding immediate sacking of Mehta.
Desai first discussed the issue of allegations against him with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray yesterday and expressed his wish to resign. Thackeray told Desai that the party stands firmly with him whatever decision he takes. Desai then met Fadnavis at Varsha bungalow and submitted his resignation. Fadnavis refused to accept the resignation and conveyed his decision to Uddhav Thackeray in a telephonic conversation.
Soon after, Mehta reached Varsha bungalow and submitted his resignation and this too was not accepted by Fadnavis.
The opposition led by Congress and NCP have termed these developments as a mere drama. The chief minister is protecting corrupt ministers, said leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. Dhananjay Munde who is the leader of opposition in the state legislative council went a step further. "The chief minister did not accept Desai's resignation as he wanted to save Prakash Mehta," said Munde.
What did Fadnavis achieve by not accepting resignations of his cabinet colleagues? Sources indicate that Fadnavis did not want to send the message that the government was forced to ask for resignations because of opposition's demands. Top BJP leadership in the state is of the view that both ministers can be dropped quietly during a cabinet reshuffle which is on the cards. "If a last minute decision is taken not to drop them, their portfolios will certainly be changed and they will get insignificant portfolios," said a BJP insider.