Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis refuses to junk Mahadev Jankar
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis says the dairy development minister Mahadev Jankar — booked for breaching election code — will stay in his Cabinet, as charges against him are non-cognisable
Devendra Fadnavis said the court would decide on the further course of action in the case against Mahadev Jankar. File pics
Nagpur: The state’s dairy development minister Mahadev Jankar, who has been booked for breaching election code of conduct, will stay in the Cabinet, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. He said the charges against Jankar were non-cognisable and the court would decide on the further course of action in the case.
Jankar keeps mum
Fadnavis was responding to the opposition’s demand for sacking Jankar, an associate of the BJP and president of a regional party Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP). Jankar kept mum when the Congress and the NCP raised the matter.
The opposition benches shouted slogans, entered the well of the house and walked out when the Speaker did not allow disruption of the question hour. However, Jankar remained absent when CM defended him after the question hour.
“You are doing injustice to the minister by asking him to resign because charges against him have not been proven yet. The charges are non-cognisable and they can be probed only when the court asks for doing so. We must wait till the case is decided,” he said, adding that the previous government had allowed a serving minister (Gulabrao Devkar of the NCP) to work despite the Supreme Court scrapping his bail in a housing scam.
“The case against Jankar is at a preliminary stage. I will neither go into merits and demerits of the case nor will I give a clean chit to the minister because he has admitted to making that phone call. It is for the courts to decide,” the CM said.
Ex-CM slams govt
Ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan slammed the government. “You have given technical reasons, but where is your morality? The Prime Minister says his fight against corruption will continue and here in Maharashtra, a minister commits a crime, which is even serious than a financial fraud. You must remove Jankar from the cabinet till the case is decided,” demanded Chavan.
The case against Jankar
On December 5, the State Election Commission (SEC) had served a show cause notice to Jankar when a video of him calling a returning officer went viral. Jankar wanted the officer to favour Jesamal Arjundas Motwani, an independent candidate and a Congress rebel, by granting him the symbol of a cup and saucer, which is the RSP’s symbol. He also told the officer to somehow render Congress’ official candidate invalid for the election so that his supporter remained in the fray.
In his response to the SEC, Jankar has admitted to have talked to the returning officer but denied having used his official position to pressurize him. He said he had made an informal request to the officer because the candidate in question had filed nomination from the Congress as well.
The SEC had asked Jankar to explain himself in 24 hours or else face action under election laws. When Commissioner JS Saharia was not satisfied with Jankar’s reply. He directed the Desaiganj police to register a complaint against Jankar and Motwani. The complaint was filed late Saturday night on the charges of influencing and obstructing a government servant from discharging his official duty and relevant sections in the state local self-government and industrial town act.
The commission initiated the action after the state Congress filed a complaint with the commission in Mumbai on December 5, the first day of the winter session of the state legislature. The party has demanded Jankar’s resignation. In view of Jankar’s alleged violation, Saharia has scrapped election process in the civic ward 9B where Motwani had filed his nomination. Jankar has denied allegations. He said his party supported Motwani and hence he requested returning officer for allotting him his party’s election symbol.
Who is Jankar?
Mahadev Jankar, president of RSP, which is BJP’s small alliance partner, was inducted in the cabinet early this year. He had invited ire of NCP workers a couple of months ago after using derogatory language against ex-deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. Following this, the CM had reprimanded Jankar. In yet another incident, the minister was accused of getting physical with participants of a protest march in Nagpur last week.
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