The opposition NCP today said the decision of Maharashtra Chief Minister Minister Devendra Fadnavis to refer to the Lokayukta the allegation against his cabinet colleague Prakash Mehta was “clever game” to save himself from any possible fallout. Fadnavis last night announced a Lokayukta probe into the opposition allegation that there had been serious impropriety in clearing a slum-redevelopment project in the city by Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, a BJP member in the cabinet. “The chief minister has played a clever game. On the one hand he has saved his own skin against the fallout of the probe against the housing minister. This is also an attempt to show people that he will not let any allegation pass of without an inquiry,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
Malik said according to the Maharashtra Lokayukta Act, the chief minister does not come under the purview of Lokayukta. “When the housing minister himself said that he had apprised the CM of his decision to sign on the file (relating to the slum development under question), it is obvious that the CM would be made to answer some difficult questions. Since the Lokayukta will not probe that angle, there will no questions raised against Fadnavis,” he said.
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He said that was why the opposition parties sought a probe into the allegations against Mehta and industries minister Subhash Desai (of Shiv Sena) by a sitting judge of the high court. Mehta has been facing heat over alleged “unauthorised” transfer of extra building rights of an the SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) project at the MP Mills Compound in south Mumbai, originally granted to slum dwellers, to project- affected people.
The opposition has alleged that the move was aimed at favouring a particular developer. The opposition had also accused Mehta of incorporating the names of his family members as the beneficiaries of a slum redevelopment project in suburban Ghatkopar. On allegations against Industries Minister Desai, Fadnavis had said the government will request the Lokayukta to consider the case and if that does not work out an independent probe would be conducted.