Eknath Shinde defends inclusion of Sanjay Rathod in cabinet
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday defended the induction of Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Rathod into the state cabinet, saying police had given him a clean chit in a case of a woman's death.
Talking to reporters after the expansion of his ministry, Shinde also said another round of cabinet expansion will take place soon.
Rathod, who was a minister in the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, had resigned last year after his name was linked to the death of a woman in Pune.
He joined the Shinde camp after the latter rebelled against the Shiv Sena leadership in June this year, which had led to the collapse of the Thackeray government.
Shinde was on June 30 sworn in as the chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis took oath as deputy CM.
On Tuesday, Shinde expanded his two-member ministry. Eighteen legislators, including Rathod, were sworn in as cabinet ministers at Raj Bhavan in south Mumbai.
"During the MVA (rule), he (Rathod) was given a clean chit. So, he was included in the cabinet. Police had given him a clean chit. If anyone has anything more to say on it, then that can be heard out," Shinde said.
Shinde also rejected claims that some rebel MLAs, including Sanjay Shirsat, were upset over non-inclusion in the cabinet.
3 MLAs facing controversies
Three of the 18 ministers sworn in on Tuesday during the Maharashtra cabinet expansion have been mired in controversies.
Newly inducted minister Sanjay Rathod had resigned last year after he was linked to a woman's death in Pune.
Chief Minister Shinde on Tuesday said police had given a clean chit to Rathod, hence he was inducted into the state cabinet.
However, state BJP vice president Chitra Wagh it was unfortunate that Rathod was inducted into the cabinet when he was allegedly responsible for a woman's death.
"Even if he is made a cabinet minister, I will continue my fight against him. I have faith in the judiciary. We will fight and win, she said.
Another newly inducted minister and rebel Sena MLA Sattar was at the centre of a row on Monday when the names of his three daughters and a son appeared in the list of the 7,880 candidates who were disqualified and banned in connection with the alleged rigging of the Teachers' Eligibility Test (TET) 2019-20.
Sattar was previously in the Congress and joined the Shiv Sena before the 2019 Assembly elections.
He also joined the Shinde camp in June following the rebellion.
On the TET controversy, Sattar on Monday alleged it was a political conspiracy and questioned the timing of the list on the eve of the Maharashtra cabinet expansion.
Another newly inducted minister and BJP leader Vijaykumar Gavit was five years back found guilty of corruption and irregularities in the tribal development department led by him between 2004 and 2009.
Gavit was in the NCP during 2004-09 and had served as a minister in the then Congress-NCP government.
He later joined the BJP and won the Assembly elections in 2014 and 2019.