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Fadnavis removes Mehta, Munde says more than dozen are corrupt

Monday, June 17, 2019
By A Special Correspondent

Although Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tried to nix the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led opposition attack against tainted Minister for Housing Prakash Mehta by removing him, NCP leader of opposition in legislative council Dhananjay Munde was in no mood yesterday to let the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena led government off the hook. Commenting upon the cabinet reshuffle on the eve of the monsoon session of the state legislature Munde remarked that the Chief Minister should have sacked at least a dozen of his tainted ministers from the cabinet.

However, Fadnavis found no place to reinstate his senior party colleague Eknath Khadse who was forced to step down on charges of corruption. Speaking to newspersons later, the former senior BJP leader had a sarcastic jibe aimed at the Chief Minister over the issue of inducting former Congress leader of opposition in legislative assembly into the state cabinet. “Vikhe-Patil is a cultured man. He was earlier with the Congress, then joined the Shiv Sena and then again went back to the Congress. He (Vikhe) has a long experience of party hopping. To retain such people in the party is a matter of great challenge and that challenge has been accepted by our party. Hence, may be, he (Vikhe) was given the cabinet post”, remarked Khadse.

Countering the opposition onslaught Fadnavis argued that his government was sensitive enough and hence constituted probes to probe the charges of corruption against his ministers. Lashing out at the opposition, the Chief Minister remarked that when the probe panels did not find any substance in their allegations they are now accusing the government of giving clean chit to the ministers.

Pointing to the monsoon session of the state legislature beginning from today, Fadnavis evaded queries on the Lok Ayukta probe report against Mehta in the MP Mill Compound FSI scam, he merely stated that the government will table its Action Taken Report (ATR) along with the report before the state legislature.

Earlier, Munde while speaking to newspersons remarked that the Fadnavis government was good at creating impression of all being good and hunky dory.
Commenting on the sacking of Mehta from the cabinet, he remarked that the Housing ministry had become a den of corruption. He added that the BJP led government has become pro-builder. Munde further added that sacking Mehta in the Rs 1,200 crore FSI scandal was not enough and demanded that criminal case be filed against the former BJP minister.

Defending the cabinet reshuffle, Fadnavis argued that changes were made to give new faces a chance to work. He further stated that it was not that the out going ministers had not performed well, it was just a case of maintaining regional balance and giving new faces a chance.

Refuting the opposition contention of impending regime change in the state, he remarked that the cabinet reshuffle was an indication that the present government is going to continue to remain in power for another five year term. Reacting to the cabinet reshuffle, MPCC president Ashok Chavan termed it as an attempt by the government to hide corruption and its failures.

Earlier in the day, Fadnavis inducted 13 new faces in his cabinet which included eight cabinet and five ministers of state. The new faces in the cabinet include – Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Jaydutta Kshirsagar, Ashish Shelar, Dr Sanjay Kute, Dr Suresh Khade, Dr Anil Bonde, Prof. Dr Ashok Uike and Prof. Dr Tanaji Sawant (all Cabinet ministers). The five ministers of state who were also sworn-in included – Yogesh Sagar, RPI-A leader Avinash Mahatekar, Sanjay (Bala) Bhegade, Dr Parinay Phuke and Atul Save. Among those who faced the sack include – Prakash Mehta, Rajkumar Badole, Vishnu Savra, Pravin Pote-Patil, Ambrish Atram and Dilip Kamble. Sources disclosed that with Ashish Shelar being inducted in the ministry, the party is most likely to appoint its newly elected Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai North-East constituency Manoj Kotak as the new Mumbai BJP unit president.

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