Demand for Shinde resignation rocks state Assembly, Council as Opp raises heat over NIT land allotment

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Leaders of Opposition parties in both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in the state called for resignation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday for allegedly allotting 4.5 acres of land of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) meant for slum dwellers at a “throwaway price” to private individuals despite the matter being “under litigation”.

The alleged decision was taken in 2021 when Shinde was a minister of Urban Development Department in the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

While the issue led to adjournment of the session at the council, Opposition leaders staged a walkout in the Assembly.

CM Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis refuted the allegations.

The issue was first raised in the Council where the Leader of Opposition, Ambadas Danve, said the plots in question were reserved for construction of houses for the rehabilitation of slum dwellers. “However, Shinde had issued an order to hand over the land parcel to 16 persons at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore. The current ready reckoner rates calculate the cost of the land to be Rs 83 crore,” he said.

“CM Shinde took the decision of handover of the land, which is a serious interference in the court’s work,” Danve alleged in a point of information in the Council.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLC Eknath Khadse called the decision a misuse of ministerial post.

Fadnavis said the court had issued no strictures on the land. “Following the amicus curiae’s claims, the court had requested the state to submit its response and maintain status quo in the matter,” he added. He further said that when the decision was taken, the NIT had not mentioned about the existence of a committee set up to inquire into the matter. “Had it been placed on record, no such order would have been passed…Our government does not give away plots to anyone at cheaper rates,” he said.

Later in the day, senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal raised the issue in the legislative Assembly. Denying the allegations, CM Shinde said that he did not violate the court order but only acted in the “spirit of equal justice” to all. “He (the applicant) came to me in appeal. My order only stated to charge as per 2007 order. I did not recommend any reduction of charges,” said Shinde in the Assembly, adding that there was no court stay at the time of his order.

He claimed that he got to know about the Gilani committee formed in 2017-18 only when the NIT informed his office about the December 14 order. Last week, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, while asking the state government to submit its response on the issue, had asked for status quo to be maintained till the next date of hearing on January 4, 2023.

Shinde said that he cancelled the 2021 order given by him as soon as he got to know about the Gilani panel.

However, NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad said, “The chief minister did not answer the questions raised by the Opposition. Instead, his explanation had many discrepancies.”

Former CM and Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray, who was in Nagpur to attend an MVA meeting, said, “When there are such serious allegations against him (Shinde), it won’t be appropriate for him to hold the position of CM as that would amount to interference in inquiry.”



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