The Shinde-Fadnavis government came under attack from the opposition as well as from the BJP, which is a junior partner, for the induction of at least three ‘’tainted’’ ministers including Vijaykumar Gavit, Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar. However, the NCP in a post on social media alleged 17 of the 18 ministers were corrupt.
Newly inducted minister Sanjay Rathod, who also served as a minister in the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led state government, had resigned last year after he was linked to a woman's death in Pune.
When Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde rebelled against the party leadership in June this year, Rathod joined his camp.
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 said 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.
However, newly inducted minister Girish Mahajan asserted that it was Wagh’s individual statement. ‘’ CM has decided to give a ministerial berth to Rathod. A probe has been conducted against Rathod while further investigation is still underway. There is some clarity from the probe which has been completed and therefore CM has taken decision on Rathod’s induction in the cabinet,’’ he noted.
NCP MP Supriya Sule said, ‘’BJP should tender an apology to Sanjay Rathod, his family and the Banjara community for running a campaign against Rathod. BJP should apologise to the entire Maharashtra. They have suffered a lot due to the allegations levelled against them by BJP. Since day one we were saying that let the investigation completes do not press for Rathod’s resignation.’’ She added that the investigation should take place to find out who has meted injustice to the Pune based woman and it is the responsibility of alto give her justice.
Former Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar took a dig at BJP saying that Rathod has purified it from its washing machine.
Former minister Yashomati Thakur questioned how Rathod, who was targeted by BJP then, has become clean.
Minutes after his induction, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was trolled on social media as his earlier videos slamming the MVA government for protecting Rathod went viral. However, Fadnavis said the CM has already given his reaction to Rathod's induction. ‘’MVA leaders have no right to criticise as their ministers have gone to jail,’’ he noted.
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.
However, both BJP and Shinde camp insiders admit that CM will have to strive to defend the inclusion of tainted ministers especially during the upcoming monsoon session and later also.