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Oppn walkout over ministers' resignation issue

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Mar 13 (UNI) Opposition Shiv Sena-BJP in the Maharashtra Assembly today staged a walkout, charging the Government of shielding its minister who is facing allegation of links with the underworld.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh earlier had informed the House that he would make a statement on action against Minister of State for Home Siddharam Mhetre's alleged underworld links after a detailed probe into the matter.

The Opposition, however, wanted the Chief Minister to sack Mhetre before intiating an inquiry into the matter.

Speaking in the Lower House, Mr Deshmukh said if the audio tapes submitted by the police in the court contained the minister's conversation with gangsters, there would have been no need of an inquiry. ''But, it is inappropriate to take action against a minister ''on the basis of conversation of two gangsters. One cannot take action just on the basis of a conversation between any two people.

Merit and facts need to be ascertained before going ahead with any action,'' he added.

Mr Deshmukh even criticised the Opposition for believing in the gangsters' recorded conversation more than the minister's clarification. ''It is sad that you trust the gangsters conversation more than a minister's statement.'' He said, ''the entire audio cassette needs to be played to find out whether any more names come out of it''. BJP leader Gopinath Munde said the Chief Minister seemed to know details about the tape and wanted to know when the government would come clear on the names. To this Mr Deshmukh replied, ''this is a seven-week long session''.

Mr Munde and Leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam said the government was applying different yardsticks while dealing with allegations against NCP and Congress ministers recalling that NCP ministers Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik were asked to resign even before allegations against them were proved.

The Opposition members also raised slogans against the government for not sacking Mr Mhetre as well as Animal Husbandary Minister Anees Ahmed against whom an FIR has been registered under the Atrocities Act on charges that he allegedly abused and attacked the personal assistant of a Congress MLA. Not satisfied with the Chief Minister's reply, they staged a walkout.

The issue of the alleged underworld links was raised by Mr Kadam and supported by Mr Munde, Wamanrao Chatap of Shetkari Sanghatna and Narsayya Adam of CPM.


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