A day after state Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde was accused of rape by a woman, his party NCP rallied around the beleaguered minister and dismissed any idea of him resigning from the cabinet. The opposition BJP, however, demanded the minister’s ouster from the state cabinet.
In a social media post on Tuesday, Munde had denied the rape allegation. He claimed that he was being blackmailed by the complainant and her sister, with whom he had a relationship and also has two children with.
State NCP chief Jayant Patil said, “…If anyone has made an allegation, it will be wrong to come to a conclusion immediately without verifying the facts. Dhananjay Munde has already given his side of the story. The matter is in the High Court… it is sub-judice… a family matter. Munde has clarified about it.”
Patil said there was an allegation against another NCP leader, Mehboob Shaikh. “There was no truth in it… Let us not come to a conclusion when an allegation has been made. There will be an investigation and the truth will come out,” he said.
According to sources, Munde met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday “to present his side of the story”.
“The party is rallying around Munde. These are mere allegations and not a court verdict. Therefore, the party is not seeking his resignation,” said NCP state spokesperson Umesh Patil.
State Minister Abdul Sattar, a leader of NCP ally Shiv Sena, said, “A similar kind of allegation had surfaced in the case of a BJP leader years ago. That time, Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray had said that ‘pyar kiya toh darna kya…’… He had stood by that leader.”
BJP state chief Chandrakant Patil, however, said, “Now that the allegations have surfaced, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar should take a decision regarding Munde’s ministerial post… I am sure they will take a decision on it. Pawar saheb especially has lived a clean political life and there have been no allegations levelled against him.”
Patil said there should be an investigation into the allegation and the matter will be decided in court. “But what about the false information submitted to the Election Commission by Dhananjay Munde? In his poll affidavit, he did not mention anything about his second wife and children. The EC should take a call on his disqualification as an MLA,” said the BJP leader.
Patil said if Munde is not ousted from cabinet, the BJP will launch an agitation against him. “Munde should resign on moral grounds,” he said.
Senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya has also submitted a memorandum to the state Election Commission and demanded action against Munde for allegedly submitting a false affidavit.
Responding to the BJP’s demand, Umesh Patil said, “If BJP is demanding the resignation of Munde on the grounds of submitting a false affidavit, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also resign. In his 2014 affidavit, the PM did not mention his wife but in the 2019 affidavit, he mentioned his wife.”
Umesh Patil said Munde has not mentioned that he had married twice, but has admitted that he had a relationship through mutual consent.
Meanwhile, Congress, the third constituent of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi, took a dig at the BJP over the issue. Reacting to a tweet by the BJP Mahila Morcha, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “If the BJP Mahila Morcha is demanding the resignation of Munde because he has two wives, then all BJP leaders will come under tension…”.