Pooja suicide case: Sanjay resigns from Maharashtra cabinet?

Pooja Chavhan - Sanjay Rathod

Mumbai : The rumour mill worked overtime in the state that the controversial Maharashtra forest minister has resigned from the Uddhav Thackeray cabinet after his name was surfaced in the death case of the 23-year old TikTok star Pooja Chavan.

The death of Pooja has snowballed into a political row in Maharashtra. The opposition BJP leaders sought the arrest of Maharashtra Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod and also demanded his resignation.

It was said that Rathod tendered his resignation before the chief minister Thackeray on moral ground. Whether his resignation was accepted or not it was, not known immediately. Pooja Chavan allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the Heaven Park building in Pune’s Wanawadi area on February 8.

Rathod, who has been representing Digras assembly constituency in Yavatmal district for the last four consecutive terms, is an influential Banjara community leader of the state. Pooja, who hailed from Parli Vaijnath in Beed district, had gone to Pune a week before her death. She was pursuing an English-speaking course and was residing with two youth, said to be her brother and his friend. The Wanawadi Police filed an accidental death case and dismissed anything suspicious in the matter. However, due to the political uproar, Chavan’s social media audio-messages are being scrutinised.

Commenting on the matter, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that an enquiry is underway and the truth will surface after the probe is over. Reports suggest that Thackeray has asked Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta to submit a report in this regard.

BJP leaders Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Kirit Somaiya and others have, however, started targeting the Maharashtra government. Somaiya said Rathod should be sacked from the Cabinet and also held immediately.

The leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had sent a letter to Director-General of Police, Hemant Nagrale, seeking an inquiry into the matter. He had also submitted 14 purported audio-clips of the alleged conversations between Pooja Chavan and the minister.

The Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said that the truth would come out after a thorough and systematic inquiry into the Pooja Chavan case. After that, if necessary, action will be taken against those concerned, he said. The Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also endorsed it.

On the other hand, a group in the Shiv Sena is of the opinion that Sanjay Rathod should resign. Sanjay Rathod needs to resign as part of morality. Rathod has not appeared in the media since the Pooja Chavan suicide case came to light. He is not reachable. All this is hitting the image of Shiv Sena. Therefore, at present, it would be appropriate for Sanjay Rathod to resign, say some Shiv Sena leaders. However, neither the Shiv Sena nor the minister confirmed his resignation so far. Rathod is still not reachable for media since his name surfaced into the controversy.