Goa Minister for Urban Development Milind Naik on Wednesday resigned from Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s Cabinet, reported PTI. The minister’s exit could be detrimental to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Assembly polls in the state.
The resignation came hours after the Congress alleged that Naik had sexually exploited a young woman from Bihar.
The Congress Goa unit chief, Girish Chodankar, had first on November 30 accused a minister in Sawant’s Cabinet of sexual misconduct while in office. Chodankar also claimed that there was a recording in which Naik could be heard speaking to the woman and coercing her to go through an abortion, reported the Hindustan Times.
Last month, Chodankar gave 15 days to the state government to take action against the minister.
The Goa chief minister responded to the allegations last week saying that he would take action if the woman involved in the sexual exploitation filed a complaint or if the Congress named the minister involved, according to The Times of India.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit chief, Sadanand Shet Tanavade, had also challenged the Congress leader to name the minister, and promised to take action against him.
At a press conference in Panaji city on Wednesday, the Congress named Naik saying that he should be fired and again called for action against him.
“And ministers like Milind Naik who sexually assault women should be not be protected or the people of Goa will not forgive me,” Chodankar said, reported the Hindustan Times.
The Congress leader also released private messages exchanged between the woman and Naik to support his allegations.
Sawant’s office on Wednesday said that Naik had resigned “to ensure a free and fair probe”.
“I have accepted the resignation and also sent it to the governor,” Sawant said. “Whatever evidence the Congress has produced we will investigate.”
The chief minister also said that Naik will fight the allegations and the minister’s actions will be “a subject of his personal decision”, reported The Indian Express.
“Whatever needs to be investigated at the government level will be done 100%,” Sawant said, adding that Naik’s ministerial position will remain vacant.
Naik is a three-time MLA from the Mormugao Assembly constituency in south Goa. He was also the state power and housing minister in 2012.