Maharashtra Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod resigned from his position on Sunday, after the Opposition alleged that he was linked to the death of a 23-year-old woman in Pune earlier this month, ANI reported.
Rathod, a Shiv Sena leader, said he submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. He also demanded a fair investigation into the incident. “The way Opposition is warning that they won’t allow Assembly session to function, I’ve distanced myself from it,” Rathod said.
Rathod added that he was maligned by the accusations and should not continue to be a minister, NDTV reported.
The woman, 23-year-old Pooja Chavan, had died on February 8. She was from Maharashtra’s Beed district and had been pursuing an English-speaking course in Pune, according to the news channel.
Chavan fell off the building in which she lived, PTI reported. The Pune Police said they will investigate whether it was a case of suicide.
Two days later, a purported audio clip emerged of two men talking about Chavan’s death, according to NDTV. The BJP alleged that one of them was Rathod, but the minister denied this allegation.
The BJP had organised a state-wide protest against Rathod, demanding his removal from the Maharashtra Cabinet, The Indian Express reported. The party had even warned that it will not allow the Budget session to take place if the minster did not resign, according to PTI.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told The Indian Express on Saturday that Thackeray had ordered Rathod to resign amid the backlash.
BJP’s Maharashtra chief Chandrakant Patil said he was glad Thackeray removed Rathod from his Cabinet, PTI reported. “It was due to the constant pressure of the people of Maharashtra and the workers of the BJP that the chief minister had to ultimately yield,” he said.
Meanwhile, Devendra Fadnavis, the leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, said that Rathod’s resignation will not suffice and demanded that a first information report be filed against him.